Video games often try to be as unique as possible in order to stand out. However, certain features should become a staple in all video games to make all gamers feel like the game was made with them in mind.
Button mapping is a crucial part of personalizing your style of gameplay. Now, the word button shouldn't be limited to just things you press on your controller. This should also include the joysticks, their sensitivity, and the ability to map their behavior. Growing up, I played a lot of Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo 64. The N64’s controller only had one centered joystick. I had to teach myself to play southpaw because of it even though my right hand is my dominant one. Today, I am ambidextrous gaming-wise. However, many southpaw players are often not given an option to play in their prefered style. Other gamers enjoy inverting their camera joystick, but they too are often not given the option. Xbox has a solution to this problem but unfortunately, this also affects the menus in the home screen, which is sometimes not ideal. Having the ability to map the buttons on controllers within the game can give everyone the competitive edge they need to play at their best performance possible.
Although this list is in no particular order, subtitles in video games hit closer to home than the rest. I am a gamer that was born deaf on the right ear. As a result, I'm hard of hearing and though I can understand most of the dialogue in video games, occasionally, I miss out on a word or two. Sometimes, that word is crucial to the mission at hand and makes it difficult to complete. I'm not the only gamer who benefits from subtitles. There are people who are completely deaf and the only way of understanding the video game is by reading subtitles. Also, teachers recommend to non-native English speakers to listen and read as much English as they can. Many English language learners may be trying to learn English through video games and subtitles allow them to connect the words with the language. As a side note, if your trying to learn a language yourself, try switching your game to a different language and learn while having fun.
Since the existence of games, gamers have spoken many languages. Though in the U.S. we’d like to think that English is the most common language, the reality is that it’s actually the third most common surpassed only by Spanish, ranked as #2, and Mandarin, ranked as #1. As a bilingual speaker, I mostly enjoy my games in English, but I like dabbling in other languages for fun. Developers should want their games to reach as large an audience as possible, so having the choice to listen to their game in another language just makes sense. However, I understand that budgets and time constraints may make it difficult for this particular feature. Another challenge associated with this feature is having to localize the game for it to make more sense in the region presented in. As an alternative, subtitles (as previously mentioned) in a different language with no audio track could still be added, as no voice actors would need to be hired, yet gamers outside of the U.S. can still understand the context of the game.
One of the best feats of modern gaming are cinematics, which are movie-like cutscenes that drive the plot of the game forward with little to no input from the gamer. However, real life is a busy one. Sometimes, while you are in a game, you may receive an important phone call, have to attend to your child, or have a sudden urge to attend the, “whiz palace,” as royally named by Leslie Knope. Pausing a cinematic should be a choice in every video game that includes one. Similarly, if you want to ignore all cinematics or have already played through the game once and don’t want to see, them for whatever reason, you should also have the option to skip through them.
Many gamers want to skip the tutorial section of the games. This section in video games should be skippable. By a similar fashion, gamers should have the option to start at any level they want. This may either be an unlockable feature after you beat the game, a feature that activates after a player has failed a certain number of times, or a feature simply unlocked from the beginning of the game. Many open world games may face this as a bigger challenge, but having a list of all missions and resetting the conditions in those missions could easily solve that problem.
Easier Said Than Done
If you’re a game developer reading this article (thank you for your amazing games) and have made it this far, you’re probably think or saying the following out loud, “It’s easier said than done..” Though I don’t dare to pretend to know the process required to develop video games, most gamers appreciate the smaller nuances that go into making video games. They may not be vocal about it, but a gamer will recognize that love and effort was mixed in together with the extra mile for a gamer-centric experience. These five features should be considered into the budget when at the early stages of planning and not an afterthought. Gamers, on the other hand, mustn’t be so negatively critical of games that lack any or all of these features. No video game developer wakes up and tells themselves, “Today, I will make a bad video game.” Every game developer tries to make the best video game they can. When we see something that works, no matter how small, we should praise it. When we see something that didn’t quite have the intended effect, we can constructively criticize the went wrong, but let’s leave the name-calling in the trash, seal it up, and send it away forever to a landfill never to be digged up again.
(Trobadour_XP) is a High School English Literature teacher at an early college campus by day. He is a YouTube content creator and an active Elite Yelper. His favorite thing about people is when they #KeepitTRO (True, Respectful, Original). Follow him at: