Ah 'game play' what a wonderfully ambiguous term. Great to use when you run out of actual adjectives to describe a game. It makes fantastic padding and is used by journalists the world over to fluff their way through a review. I myself have used it on several previous blog posts, sometimes just to fill up the old word count.
But what does it actually mean?!
Trying to define it is rather like trying to nail jelly to a wall. You can spend hours working at it and just end up with a mess.
If we are to believe what we are told, then game play is immensely important. It marks how we (the gamer) interact with and experience the game, or at least that’s how Patrick Mount attempts to define it. However, I think the term may be an awkward combination of many elements that make up a game. To help try and understand it I started to think about what it’s not trying to define. 1) Graphics 2) Sound 3) Presentation (story, characters, art design.) Well I'll be honest these are 3 of the 5 categories in IGN's reviews the 4th being the much fabled 'game play' and the 5th lasting appeal. But if it’s not about the first 3 what’s really left? I'm starting to think one simple definition might be 'what you have to do to play the game.' For example, do you have to race a car? Or shoot a gun? Then much to my annoyance I started to realize I was basically saying the same thing as Patrick Mount, although in a slightly less articulate way. All in all I think the best description I’ve read came from good old Wikipedia. So basically I could have saved a lot of time and just pasted that article on here.