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Video Games Are Like Sandwiches

A step-by-step guide to making a video game...or a sandwich...whichever you prefer. This article compares the two to give a breakdown of what makes a good video game, for beginners. Great for beginners to look at video games from a different side.

Dylan Woodbury, Blogger

October 17, 2009

4 Min Read

There are a lot of metaphors for game design out there, but, for me, none of them quite fit the bill. I was trying to think of a good way to explain the components of a video game, but was drawing a blank...that is, until I thought of the sandwich!

Each aspect of a game has a complimentary element of the sandwich. The video game itself is the sandwich, and the designer is the chef, and under him his team of cooks with many different jobs, who work together to reach the end product.

Breakdown Of A Sandwich (Video Game)

The Bread (Techie Stuff)-The most important aspect of a sandwich is the bread. Without it, it's not a sandwich! The same goes for games. All of the code that runs behind the scenes holds all of the other components of game design together, much like the bread holds everything else. I'm not saying that the more immaginative aspects of a video game are unimportant, but without the code, you can't even use the design.

The Meat (Gameplay)-The meat of a sandwich can have many different types, like salami, ham, chicken, and so on, depending on the type of sandwich. In a video game, the gameplay (the actions you make in a game) varies depending on the game (shooting in shooters, sword-fighting and bow-and arrows in medieval-fiction games). If the gameplay is good and fun, the gamer will most likely want to come back for more, unless other aspects of the game are lacking. Usually, games are defined based by their gameplay, much like the sandwiches' meat. Ham sandwich, chicken sandwich, tuna sandwich...Action game, adventure game, role-playing-game (rpg), strategy... These types of games all have broad gameplays, and can be put into sublevels. In the action or action-adventure category, you can have shooters, which revolve around shooting, platformers, which are based around running and jumping from one point to the next, brawlers, in which your character has a set list of fighting moves which you accomplish by pressing a button, and so forth. Without good meat, the game is boring... And without any meat, it's no video game, and no sandwich either.

The Veggies (Story)-You can technically have a sandwich without veggies, but it could be rather boring unless it's a certain type of sandwich. A game can survive without a story, depending on the game's genre, but in most cases, the story makes up the other half of the game, and motivate the gameplay, much like how the veggies compliment the meat. The story must be engaging and interesting, without the taste of soggy and overripe veggies. Multiple plotlines combine in games (as well as books, movies, and TV shows) to make a giant super-story, which is fully understood in the end. The story must also have twists and turns, and keep the gamer/eater on his/her feet. Throw in a hot pepper here and there, mabye disguise a piece of garlic as onion, so the eater doesn't figure it out until he's chewing it.

The Condiments (Characters/Enemies)-Every sandwich has at least some condiments on it, and games are no exception. A game needs interesting characters and enemies to coexist and interact with throughout the story. They are very important, for they add to both the gameplay (meat) and story (veggies). Also, everyone has their own preferences of condiments, and can choose how to interact with them (include, throw out, etc.). The player can usually decide how and how much to interact with the non-playable-characters (NPC's), unless the designer (chef) forces you to do certain things to complete the game (sandwich). 

The Presentation (Graphics)-A sloppy sandwich with condiments dripping out, and veggies hanging loose gives a bad impression, and distracts the eater from the taste, due to the fact that he's trying to eat it without staining any clothing. A gamer is going to stare at the graphics of a game for a long time, so make it look good. It doesn't necessarily have to look real, but it has to go with the flow of the other graphics of the game. Nice visuals have a huge influence on the feel of the game, much like how a sandwich can already be judged before it is tasted.

The Portion Size (Length/Replayability)- Nobody wants to be ripped off with a small sandwich. Give your game a good-length so the player can enjoy it for hours and hours, but make sure you're not just being repetitive to add some time onto the game. Also, players love sidequests, collectibles, hidden areas, and easter eggs. Think of these as the fries and the coke, which add some substance and stuff to do if the player desires so.

Well, those are the basics of game design and its resemblance to the sandwich. I'll have to take a rest, and see if I can think of anything to add. Comment below, and I'll try to modify our recipe to further this article's accuracy. Your thoughts/feedback are welcome.

Bon Apetite!

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