Now that the tangible is out of the way, let's talk about the game.So what value is there in the game? Since there is so much variety in games nowadays, let's look at the value of three possible portions of a game: single player, local multiplayer and internet multiplayer - and extreme examples of each. 1. Single Player
A lot of good games are single player oriented or have a solid single player element. Without them, a lot of games would get nowhere. It would take too much time to go through everything - so I'm just gonna talk about what I like in single player.
First, there's the story. Some single player games, such as puzzle games like Bejeweled, Lumines and Peggle, are completely lacking in single player storyline. Most of them, however, do - Grand Theft Auto IV, Bioshock, Portal, Tales of Vesperia, and the list goes on. A lot of first person shooters and RPGs are filled with a good story to keep you playing. For some gamers, this is about the only reason to play a video game - a good story.
After the storyline, we have the gameplay - the central element of the game. You can have an excellent story, great graphics, but it doesn't matter if the gameplay just plain annoys you. For turn based RPGs, this usually entails plenty of menus, decision making and strategy. For action games, this usually entails mashing buttons until the enemies drop dead where they stand (while not dropping dead yourself). For platformers, well, there's a lot of jumping. :P
Of course - there's replay value. Some games have insane replay value - racing games are a good example. It's easy to replay most of the game multiple times - and you're expected to do so most of the time. Most other games don't have quite so much - action games tend to extend replay time by unlocking more difficulty levels to keep challenging the player, RPGs on the other hand try to push sidequests and the occasional New Game Plus. While some would claim otherwise, I think FPSes have little replay value in the single player department. Real time strategy would depend on the player and the game. Some people might see the joy in playing through Dawn of War: Soulstorm's campaign with every race, while most people just play it once and go back to multiplayer after that.
Then there is the rather ambiguous and difficult to define satisfaction from completing the game. This satisfaction increased the longer and more difficult the game is - seeing the ending is only part of the utility gained from finishing a video game. There is also the sense of achievement and euphoria - rewards of the past 5 to 60 hours of gameplay.
- to be continued -
Note: This was meant to be longer and include the multiplayer portions, but I've decided to push those to Part 3 in favour of getting Part 2 out to begin with.