Game Design: The Elements of a Great Game

By Megan Isola

Many of us have played video games at some point in our lives. The list of people who take on gaming as a hobby continues to increase and gain popularity. As the demand for new video games grows, developers are working hard to be the next big thing in the gaming world. Quality video game design has the potential to have your game reach icon status, but how does one accomplish this? Here are the main elements of a great game.

Game mechanics

Game mechanics are essential to quality video game design. Video game mechanics are fundamental characteristics and rules which govern gameplay. Quality game mechanics are essential to video game design because it dictates how users interact with a game, whether that be through a keyboard, control system, or touch screen. In addition, to play controls, game designers need to design the physics and movement of players within the game, such as gravity and collision detection depending on the game type. For example, racing games utilize advanced movement mechanics to emulate when a vehicle crashes.

Within gaming mechanics, should also be the overall objective of a game. Without defining the goal of your game and the potential achievements offered post-completion of that goal, players will quickly become disinterested. In addition to the end goal of a game, planning around how game progression needs to take place, either by leveling up, completing tasks, earning points, or unlocking new items.


A high-quality story is another essential aspect of video game development. A good story within a video game helps immerse and engage its players. A well-crafted video game helps build the in-game world. World-building creates a rich game experience for users, and a powerful story has the potential to get a video game to iconic status. In addition to world-building, needs to be character development. A strong narrative should have well-rounded characters to increase player investment in a game by appealing to emotion. Furthering their character’s story and interacting with the in-game world is a strong strategy for motivating a player to complete a game. A compelling narrative not only keeps players engaged but evokes emotions and increases replayability. If the players who purchase your game continue to come back for more or even create online communities of players who enjoy your game, this is a strong indicator of a quality story within a game.

Visual appeal

Visual design is another vital aspect of video game development. Players most certainly judge a game by its visual components, so it’s essential to optimize game visuals. In-game graphics provide a sense of realism to immerse the players in the game’s world. An aesthetically appealing and visually stimulating environment goes a long way in enhancing a player’s experience while playing a game.

Graphic design also assists in building the identity and brand of a video game. By creating a more visually unique game, your product has the potential to become distinct, set apart from the rest of the games on the market, and easily recognizable. As mentioned above, evoking emotions is a necessary aspect of quality video game design, and your visuals should create memorable experiences for players.

Along with the visual appeal, your games should also be accessible to players who have disabilities. The use of VR in the medical field improves the quality of life for patients and assists struggling individuals in finding new joy and celebrating their life, highlighting how impactful good gaming design can be in the world and the importance of accessibility in gaming.

Sound design

Along with the visuals, the sound is another video game design element. Quality sound elements immerse players further in the game. Sound helps further build the world created within a game, and can evoke emotions in players like excitement, tension, and suspense. Sound also serves as a tool for players to recognize when they have completed an action or are close to an enemy. As mentioned before, VR provides a unique experience for players further diving them into the in-game world, and sound is a vital aspect of these gaming experiences. To improve accessibility to differently-abled players, the sound is a tool to help provide audio descriptions or other methods so everyone can join in on the fun.


User experience and user interface help create a seamless and intuitive experience for video game players. By optimizing navigation elements, players can easily move through the built world. Quality UX and UI should also make a game clear and easy to understand to reduce frustration and quitting of players. Players should also be able to customize the game in some way to make it more appealing to play. For example, by offering different modes of difficulty, a wide range of plays of various skill levels can participate. Overall good UX and UI design should improve player engagement and player retention rates.


After finalizing the different characteristics of a video game may it enter the testing phase. Testing a video game before publishing helps identify any bugs, glitches, or other issues that may negatively affect a player’s experience. One noteworthy example of this was the release of Cyberpunk in 2020. Players waited a decade for this game, and along the way came lots of hype surrounding the game. Unfortunately, expectations were high for players upon the release of the game. And because of poor or incomplete testing and game mechanics, many players found the game to be unplayable, resulting in lots of negative press.

Testing is essential because it provides quality assurance of the product. Like with any other industry, consumers vote with their wallets. By providing a high-quality, thoroughly tested game, you increase sales and generate loyal customers. In addition to gaming developers testing out game mechanics for finalization, companies may also employ playtesting where real players provide feedback on a yet-released game to help the dev team make adjustments.


After the game design gets finalized, video game developers need to employ marketing tactics to raise awareness and generate interest among the gaming community. To ensure success and the reaching of a target audience, video game companies need to build anticipation and excitement for the game’s release. Attracting early adopters of a game helps to build a community of players, generate buzz around a game, and drive sales.

Building brand awareness for a game helps increase its visibility and make it more appealing to players. By working with gaming content creators, companies can generate buzz around their games to spread product awareness. Popular creators can also help keep your game relevant post-release by promoting new content and updates. Marketing efforts for a video game should give them a competitive advantage in the market of video games by helping it stand out from the rest.

Creating a great game

By paying attention to the many details that go into video game production, developers have the potential to create a game loved by many. At the end of the day, video game developers are businesses that have to work to create quality products for their customers. A poorly designed game has the potential to become infamously known and ruin a development company’s reputation. However, by carefully reviewing these main aspects of a game and testing out a product, they’re on the right track to producing a well-loved game.

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends. 

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