Most of the games I play are obscure, and I prefer ones where the action is done at a a pace I enjoy, which is often lightning-fast. I often play through them so fast I end up starting over right after the end because I don’t feel that I got my money’s worth. I have noticed a real pattern in games however. Fast gameplay with quick rewards makes for highly addictive gameplay.
If the gameplay gives you a reward for a short burst of action, then you have time to play more of it and feel satisfied, knowing that your next goal is in reach. Let me give a few examples of games I’ve experienced.
For one, VVVVVV, which is a very short game, allows a new player to complete it in a few hours, and a skilled one can do it in a few dozen minutes. Clearing a screen once you learn how to do it takes only a few seconds. If you die, no big deal, as you respawn on that screen or in the previous one. Straight back to action. Though some parts can take 20, 40, or even several hundred attempts for the dreaded Veni Vidi Vic, which is known in the community and even acknowledged in the game as being absurdly difficult and lasting a mere 10 seconds, which does add some length but keeps the fast pace intact.
The Japanese company Alicesoft is known for making some very addictive games, like Daibanchou – Big Bang Age, which involves a single powerful (understatement, he’s the most powerful entity in the entire game) fistfighter named Rouga Zanma who takes over a school, the surrounding districts, and eventually the whole of Japan. The individual turns and battles are over quite quickly, but the small amount of time they take lends to the game’s addictive nature.
Let me just play one more turn before I go to bed.
Big Bang Age’s gameplay and difficulty encourages moving swiftly and skillfully, you can easily screw up and back yourself into a corner, but those who have enough experience with the game can clear it without breaking a sweat. Once you get the momentum going though, it’s very difficult to stop. The fact that it’s impossible to do everything in one playthrough means completionists will be replaying it.
Another majorly addictive game, to me, is Minecraft. The rewards come very quickly. It only takes a few minutes to get a stone pickaxe, and all the resources you need for a house are scattered everywhere, allowing players to get right into the meat of the game with minimal hassle. Want to build a castle? Nuke the spit out of the nearest cave and suck the whole thing dry of its resources. Want a wooden cottage? Well ball up your fist and start punching trees or chop them down with an axe. You get what you need easily and can build to your heart’s content. Seeing one resource after another and having the means to quickly get it results in a chain of events that make you look out the window and immediately think “What year is it!?”. Gathering resources is fast, but the actual building is slow without some collaboration.
What else is as addictive as crack? Touhou, love the entire series and I love a handful of the fangames that come out. The official games of the series have difficult bullet patterns, typical to the aptly-named Bullet Hell genre, and even though many of them can be cleared in just a matter of seconds, the feeling of relief when you see the bullets fade away leaves you wanting more. It’s short, it’s difficult, but you keep wanting to improve just a liiittle bit more to capture that one spellcard that always ruins your attempt at a high score.
Two minutes of PURE HELL. This is the Normal mode version.
Easy rewards and few setbacks seem to be things that I enjoy, but I have no problem working towards bigger and better rewards beyond what normal gaming offers. It is my opinion that a game that gets things over with in as quick a fashion as possible without sacrificing the fun-factor have far more addictive gameplay than other slow-paced games. Anyone hold a different opinion?