Why Does My Game Exist?

in Gamer Thoughts

The Indie Game Maker Contest is in full swing, the Humble Game Making Bundle is chugging along, its very very early in the morning, and finally, I have a chance to breathe a bit before judging starts.

(Seriously, if you haven’t checked out the Bundle yet: WHAT ARE YOU DOING CHECK THAT OUT)

So, while the clock ticks ever closer to “Oh, God, Why”, I thought I’d share a little bit of advice on making games. Now, I’m not an expert on making games. I’ve not managed to finish one since becoming an adult, and the ones I made before that should not be mentioned.

But, I do play a lot of games. I’ve seen a lot of friends make games. And I’ve noticed a single pattern with the ones I find the most engaging: They have a reason to exist.

So what is your games raison d’être?

And I don’t mean that in the artsy way, though it can be an artsy thing, I just mean it in a “What does this game do that 80 other games don’t already do? What is it that makes this game INTERESTING?”

This can be a mechanic that the entire game is built around, like the Nemesis System from Shadow of Mordor.

Yes, I know I mention certain games a lot... games with a strong reason for existing STICK with you.

Yes, I know I mention certain games a lot… games with a strong reason for existing STICK with you.

Do you have a mechanic that you can build your game around? Perhaps a unique mechanism in the battle system? Or in character customization? Or maybe you’ve found a way to integrate to genres that generally don’t go together, like Persona 3/4 did with Visual Novels/RPGs.

Unique or at least new twists on old mechanics are a great reason for someone to play your game. When I see a game that does something I hadn’t thought of, or something that just I haven’t seen, it intrigues me. It draws me in. You still want to execute well of course, but having something unique to do will draw people in, and keep them there longer than something that is well executed but routine of the same quality.

It could be something in the story.

Yet, again time to bring up a game I talk about a lot, but with Nier, I have never, ever seen a game re-contextualize EVERYTHING the player did all game. It was interesting. It was novel. You get to the end and learn that nothing was what you thought it was. And even with me telling you this, I would make a big bet that if you played it now, you STILL wouldn’t know what was coming if it was your first time playing. It made it infinitely more engrossing than just saving the world.

It could even be an art or music style. A game like last year’s IGMC entry Little Briar Rose drew me in specifically because the stained glass art style was intriguing.


Even if you haven’t played it, doesn’t that make you want to? A new sound, a new look, something you haven’t seen in a game before. Just like a mechanic, or a story element that is strongly unique, a uniquely STYLED game can go a long way.

So, what does your game do? Why does it exist? Why should someone play your game over any other? Tell us in the comments below.

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