My family is very old school when it comes to video games and lately my little brother has taken the liking to the N64 Smash Brothers. Which brings back memories of myself playing this game with my friends.
This game is purely "adventure" game play. You go through different stages (literally) and battle a set amount of computer generated opponent until you get get to the master level which is a white gloved hand. There is no story line to it or a reason as to why you're going through each stage battling your opponents until you reach the white gloved hand, which leaves the player completely clueless as to the point. T
he rules of the game seem very basic, you battle and beat up the opponents causing them to "fly off into the sky" only to be reborn again to continue the battle. In "Free for All" mode, which is the multiplayer option you choice which character you'd like to fight with and then continue to "battle" your opponent. In this case I battled my 11 year old brother.
I decided to try a couple of different strategies while I was playing. Aside from trying to figure out which buttons cause which caused which action since there were no instructions in the beginning of the game. I soon figured out that it didn't matter how many times you hit your opponent (or my Kirby beat up Alex's Samus) as long as I was the last one to hit his character before he "blasted into the sky", I gained a point and eventually won at the end of the time limit. This held true even when I forced my little sister to join in the game with us.
After discovering most the abilities of my characters and how to win the game, it became rather dry and dull for me to play it. As I watched my little brother play however, I could tell he thoroughly enjoyed this game and his own sound effects.
This caused me to sit back and think about what exactly made this game boring to me and so fun for my little brother. I wondered if maybe it was the 9 year age difference, but after some thought it didn't make sense since he usually plays my video games anyways. Then I wondered if it had to do with his autism, but again I came to the conclusion that it couldn't be because of this since we like the same video games. Finally, I figured it out. It had to do with the lack of narrative in the game. With no real direction or story line as to why these battles are important, it lacked substance and fun for me.
Without narrative it seemed pointless to keep playing for "fun." Which caused me to think about ludology and narrative and how so many try to separate the two. It became obvious that if you did separate the two, the video game itself, while fun to some who just care about playing, won't be very interesting and won't hold the attention of players for very long. So for me anyways, video games need narrative and some sort of direction in order to hold my attention. I need goals (quests) and freedom to do different quests at one to hold my attention and make the game fun and worth playing.