Gamers’ Arguments: Gameplay First?

Gamers’ Arguments. Everyone’s got ‘em and everyone’s got opinions on ‘em. So why don’t we air out these deeply-held thoughts? Why don’t we get a little hot under the collar? Why don’t we make our claims known?

This time around in GA’s Gs’ As we’re going to look at an idea spawned from Blizzard’s very own mission statement: Gameplay First. At first, it seems obvious — of course gameplay — but then again, take a second to ponder this. How many games can succeed nowadays solely with gameplay as their hook; bad story, bad design, bad characters. On the other hand, wouldn’t gaming kinda suck if everything was Walking Dead this and Heavy Rain that? Let’s talk.


Gameplay first. Yes. Gameplay should come first. While this immediately comes under fire by the “You’re Stuck In the Dark Ages!” Clan, I cannot think of a single one of my favorite games that lacks sublime gameplay. Tetris, Mario, Oblivion, Hello Kitty: Island Adventure. They’ve got it all, sure, but most importantly they are excellent games at their very core. And that is what makes a game great.

I won’t give those who disagree the easy Straw Man and say “Go watch a movie for story” because that’s dismissive and reductive towards the medium I love. However, to throw away gameplay is to disregard the strongest asset of gaming itself. Y’know, the gameplay itself. It would be like reverting to silent film after the decades spent towards photography direction. So, yes, gameplay first. Maybe not always, but definitely first.


Gameplay can come first. I’ll even say that gameplay should come first … but only in certain instances when it’s a title’s strongest asset. As traditional games and, in turn, most games today focus on this element, gameplay should come first in a majority of cases. But not every case. Here’s where a little living proof plays in.

I hate the gameplay in every Metal Gear Solid entry. From clunky to frustrating, I could create a near-endless list of negatives detailing why I’ve never enjoyed playing a Metal Gear installment. And yet, Metal Gear Solid may be the best experience I had on the original PlayStation. I liked the sequel even more. The third and fourth didn’t do quite as much for me, yet I still felt compelled to drop down the difficulty of Guns of the Patriots so I could effortlessly glide between the ridiculously convoluted (but beautifully ridiculous) story sequences that exist outside of player control.

I could have watched a movie or read a book instead to benefit from an entirely narrative medium, but I wanted a video game. The ever-so-slight level of interaction allows me to become more absorbed in this form of entertainment than others. But it was the story that got me going, the story that kept me coming back, and the story that gave me a good time. Gameplay became irrelevant, and it didn’t matter for a second.

Hit page 2 for some more from the throwdown.

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Written by: Nick Cane

Game writer, fervent lover of mac and cheese. Favorite games are ES4: Oblivion, Kirby's Adventure, Link's Awakening, Final Fantasy 8 and Mario Galaxy.