The Exigent Duality
Gaming rubric - 18:55 CDT, 8/15/14 (Sniper)
Graphics: Strong preference for sprites over polygons, except in genres that generally attempt to mimic real life exactly, such as sports or racing games. It's the same reason that I prefer paintings over sculptures; they are much richer and more interesting to look at.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.

Even when it comes to sprites, I'm very particular about art style. Good art is what comes naturally; bad art is when things are contrived.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.


Sound: Sophisticated compositional qualities are the first crucial thing. Bonus points for Classical or Baroque influence, but Jazz or Rock fusion is ok too. Orchestral Hollywood-style music is enough to make me mute the volume almost immediately-- total turn-off.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.

Music should be both atmospheric and easy to hum along with during gameplay. It should be able to be recalled even years after exposure.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.

No strong preference for pre-recorded, with real instruments, versus not. There are lots of contrived, forgettable "chiptune" songs, and lots of memorable pre-recorded, fully instrumented melodies.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.

Sound effects are sort of a wash; I tend to appreciate emotive, minimalistic effects, although I can't say I've ever been turned on or put off of a game by the sound effects in particular.


Gameplay: Emphasis on dialog, cut-scenes, and overt story telling are big turn-offs for me. True art "shows, doesn't tell", as any English professor or literature critic will tell you. It takes a lot more talent to tell stories through implication than it does to have dialog jabbering in the player's face.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.

Games that use simple, repeatable, basic building blocks that are simple to learn, difficult to master are the titles I keep returning to over and over, even decades after I first played them. They are like chess boards; simple on the surface, but containing infinite possibilities. This versus games that are constantly encumbered with interruptions, and try to be more like "Broken Arrow"-- cinematic-- than backgammon.

Something that makes me want to play more.
Something that makes me want to quit playing.


Overall: The only games that I truly enjoy are the ones that use a richly detailed, naturally-flowing 2d art style, with memorable and compositionally sophisticated music, and with "jump in and play" gameplay mechanics that use simple, repeatable building blocks.

For whatever reason-- I've been this way my whole life-- I am extremely sensitive to stylistic choices that offend my sensibilities. In part for this reason, gaming post-2000 or so has been far less satisfying than gaming before that moment in time, because after 2000 the Half-Life/Halo/Metal Gear Solid influence became all-encompassing. As gaming became more and more focused on making money, and the audience became more and more mainstream, these "let's imitate Hollywood" principles became utterly entrenched.

Today you either have triple-A games, which generally violate practically everything above, or indie titles-- they gave me hope when they first emerged, but ultimately have let me down-- which occasionally get the gameplay right, but whiff big-time on the art style and music.


What's next: Now that I've articulated my tastes in great detail and provided examples, I'm exceedingly open to suggestions of games from any era, modern included, that "put it all together" based on my descriptions above.