Design portfolio of Patty Shannon


Post about what is a defining game.

I was listing to a podcast, Ign’s game Scoop! while i was meant to be studying. They were taking reader questions and the one that got my attention was “What is the game that defines this generation?” while i think that the Scoop boys discussed it well, i do think they missed what this generations defining game’s were, not game. During this segment they do bring up the fact that there really is no one defining game of this current cycle of console, though they don’t ever really say what those defining games are. they mention games in passing like Minecraft and Call of Duty but there never really decide on what was the defining games of this generation.

I don’t really blame them for not deciding on what games defined this generation and both of the two they mention in detail were good examples, but i don’t think that it was just these two games the defined this the 7th generation of games.  So first we must ask How? how do we define a Defining game ? What is a defining game? What must it do to be a defining game?

I think a defining game must do one of 3 things.

1. Influence other games of this generation, weather its a singular gameplay mechanic or an art style. This should be traceable to the first game executed on these with shear perfection. For example mario 64, this game was the bench mark for any 3d platformer to come out during the 64 bit era of the n64 and PlayStation. as well as influencing games like crash bandicoot and rayman 2 

2. It should have a lasting impact on the player. This could be things like how it plays, the games story, its art style, the characters. examples from the past include Zelda ocarena of time, mario 64 and doom.

3. It should still be playable. This one is rather important, if a game is still fun to play after like 10 years then it has succeeded as a defining game. i am basing this off the idea of classic movies, most classic movies are still extremely watchable now. practically anything by Alfred Hitchcock can still be watched and enjoyed by anyone who likes films. so why not apply this logic to games as well.

So now we have some definition to what a defining game should be, we can now apply this to a variety of games that came out this generation. So my first choice shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Gears of War

On November 6th 2006 the game that brought the world chest high wall with the ability to magnetically attract big manly rectangles was unleashed on to an unsuspecting world, becoming a big hit with commercial audiences and critics all over the world. Gears of war made the gameplay idea of third person cover based shooting popular with gamers, a gameplay mechanic that would appear in hundreds of games this generation like uncharted, mass effect, inversion and many more. Any game that came out this generation that had third person shooting was compared to Gears of War and its subsequent sequels, this being a testament to its well designed levels and thought out gameplay mechanics.

Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty is arguably the Biggest Franchise in the world right now, its the only game franchise to have a single game to exceed sales of 1 billion dollars in only six weeks. its a well known brand by the hardest of hard core gamers to casualest of casual gamers. it dominates sales charts all over the world and has been the best selling games of the year for the last 3 iterations. its a pop culture phenomenon, but why ? it started way back in 2005 the creators of the call of duty franchise infinity ward saw that the genre of first person world war 2 shooters was becoming over saturated with title after title being released to less then critical acclaim and mediocre sales. so what did they do? they passed off making the third game to a lesser known studio and went in to hibernation for about a year and a half then it came out and dominated an area only halo had really been playing in.

No body saw it coming, this game blew peoples minds. Even thought battlefield 2 had come out 2 years early fans and critics were stunned and amazed but the radical jump from world war 2 to the present day is something that would help influence many games like medal of honor and battlefield. This modern military shooter didn’t just define where war shooter would be set, it also set the standards for this generation of online mulitplayer and linear story telling. It was the first FPS game to make use of an xp leveling system as a hook for its multiplayer, something that is now something every multiplayer game has to have or else it feels uncompleted. It began to make publishers feel that there game had to have a multiplayer component even if they didn’t need one, they did this so they could so they could compete with call of duty. if that isn’t and example of a defining game then i don’t know what is.

Mass Effect Trilogy

So this one isn’t really a single game, evident by the fact i use the word trilogy in the title. But i digress. Mass Effect is probably one of the games that will be talked about for ages, not just about its polarizing ending, but that it did something that no other sci-fi game/tv show/moive/book hasn’t done in a long time, not since star wars or star trek. It established an amazing fully realized universe. The fact that a good chunk of mass effect universe was squeezed in to the three games with things like visual story telling, journal entries, audio logs and an expansive narrated encyclopedia that was expanded and included in all there games.  If anything each games theoretically contains over 100 books worth of story’s and general lore, but the fact they included it all in to just these 3 games (not including the books, comics and other side games) is freaking impressive.

it doesn’t end there though, there another reason why i think the series as a whole help define this generation was its story. The story in mass effect was truly epic in every sense of the word, It was the first game to my knowledge to make you choices effect the subsequent games giving the player some sort of owner ship of not just a character but an entire universe. People became attached to the universe that was shaped by them, i certainly was. it was a feeling i never had in a game before, i was in control of what could happen to a thought to be extinct alien race, i had the power to remove religion from a race of sentient robots, i had the power to decide if one race would be allowed to bread again! That’s only just a small selection of what was possible and some of them were not even main story quests!!! just that power alone made this game so engaging for me and many other out there.


So that’s it, these are some of the games that i personally think defined this generation. I am completely aware i have missed some games and you can tell me all about it in the comments or not, but these games have had the biggest impact on this generation of consoles. People are going to remember these games and the games they gave birth to. Even if you disagree with me, you know im just a little right.