What keeps you playing a game for long periods of time? It’s a question that a lot of game developers tend to keep in mind when developing their games. There also happens to be no right answer when considering this question. However, we can come close to a right answer, and that answer is flow. More specifically, games that induce a flow state and a sense of immersion tend to be the games that keep players hooked for a long time.
There are a couple of games that come to my mind that have personally induced a flow state for me. The first one goes back to the time when I was just starting to get really into gaming. Super Smash Bros Melee for the Gamecube was a game that really kept me hooked for a long time, and it still manages to immerse me in the experience.
First off, the game requires a lot of twitch skills, and the ability to react quickly to different attacks, because it is a fighting game of course. It also requires a sense of concentration and patience that was un-paralleled at the time, in my opinion. Most of the times I played with my younger brother because the game was more fun when played with friends. It was a game that was easy at first. When we first got the game, my brother and I where on the same skill level. We weren’t too good at the game and we were still learning the different moves and abilities that each of the characters had.
But, the game became more challenging as my brother and I started to become more skilled at the game. Matches tended to be longer and they also became more frustrating. That is where the concentration and patience came in. We were both really good at the game by this point so the matches were more even and they tended to test our patience a lot. There would be momentum swings in both directions throughout the matches and the final outcomes were varied. The game, even though it really didn’t change anything, was never boring. The fun came in the form of the increasing challenge that it provided. I was never that immersed in a game till Super Smash Bros came by.
Another game that really immersed me was Gran Turismo 4 for the PS2. This was another game that really immersed me in it’s world via challenge and the skills it required you to master. It started off easy with cheap cars and simple tracks. It eased you into the experience and got you used to the feeling of the game. The challenge then ramped up as you took your first license test in the game. It was these tests that unlocked more tracks and race tournaments that you could participate in.
The game kept me hooked for a long time as I tried to master the different tracks and races. The game was definitely challenging as you reached the endgame content, but they prepared you enough so that it was never too frustrating. It was just the right amount of challenge that kept me there, but never detracted me away from the experience.
These two games were some of the first that I ever played and they were also definitely some of the best that I have ever played. They were the games that really kept me immersed in their experiences for hours on end. They both had their differences. Super Smash Bros required a lot of twitch and concentration skills while Gran Turismo basically required driving skills. Both were great examples of games with flow.