Most important element: story, world, characters, or soundtrack?
For me, the soundtrack & world are the most important elements. Attention to detail gets me off.
But that's not to say that plot or characters are dismissible; they're just not as important to me, though characters often do contribute a lot to their world.
Time investment. Video games rely on time entrapment in order to maintain a solid consumer base. The reason MMOs like WOW and RS were so successful is because players made a small initial time investment in leveling up their characters, got a small initial dopamine rush, and then kept playing. These players kept playing on until the dopamine stopped coming, but they already had mid-high level accounts, so why stop? Why waste all of the time invested? So they kept playing on and on until they were grinding weeks and months just to see a number incremented.
This form of entrapment relies on the human trait known as the sunk cost fallacy.
Now, that isn't the only way to keep a population enthralled.
First person shooter games appeal to the human desire of competition, giving players an opportunity to rapidly >prove> themselves in repeated short matches. This provides a natural outlet for young competitive males, which explains the natural overlap between those who enjoy sports and those that enjoy fps games.
Now, off to the elephant in the room. Neither MMOs or FPS games are popular these days. What gets played nowadays are games with arguably far less content (consider the number of maps in League of Legends vs the number of maps in COD MW3, or consider the number of abilities in Overwatch vs the number of skills/abilities in Runescape). These modern games, namely Overwatch, League of Legends, and Hearthstone, have combined the irrational human incentives of sunk time investment, gambling addiction, as well as a third factor: social status. All three of the aforementioned contemporary games have an elo system, making it so that games that would normally not be discussed in public contexts are now a centerpiece of discussion. If you can brag about your elo, you will establish a natural dominance hierarchy in which high elo players and low elo players alike can circlejerk about a video game. The low elo players will have a subordinate position in which they will take advice from high elo players and pretend to respect them, all the while grinding games to raise their mmr so that they (the low elo players) may some day overtake the high elo players. The high elo players will pretend to be helpful towards the low elo players, all the while looking at the low elo players with disdain, so the high elo players will grind games even more to maintain their status.
That is, for commercial video game success, you have to create soul-crushing, artless parasites that feed on human faults.
you could still brag about your RS skill levels/accomplishments/bank, though my 99 slayer and 5400+ logged hours never won me any irl status....
high scores have existed forever in vidyagames
maybe it was gud marketing/word of mouth/destigmatization of discussing videogame >rank> that has caused an influx of degenerate normies to bring it into social acceptability.
also the learning curve/time investment curve is quicker for those games; you cant do much in RS until you get skillz + $$. you can launch the league/overwatch/cod and jump into the pigpen
@ Does time investment really make the game for you? It seems like that dynamic is more of a marketing thing than anything. . . what's your favorite element of a game?
Game >rank> just feels like a natural extention of the competitive human spirit, like what you said.
Shit-tier mobas are the natural reduction of [j]video games[/j] into a dense block of angst and luck, with just enough room left to sell character skins.
The most important element is gameplay.
If I have to pick, it's the world, but what I really mean is exploration.
All I want from a game is something to explore and learn. A good level I can master and move onto the next, nice area with a pleasing aesthetic, gradual introduction of mechanics I get to learn, and sometimes even knowing interesting parts about the lore.
What I'm looking for is the game to present itself and immediately end so I can play the next one and never worry about it again.
Characters, I guess, but more specifically the dialogue. I can usually go along with any story or plot, as long as it's delivered well and it's not campy or generic.
@ fun is the best! Do you like open-world games the best? It sounds like you would enjoy free-roaming games the best.
As for me, I've come to appreciate the characters of a game a lot more, having come from a background of mostly neglecting any plot or character development.
It really depends on the genre of game for me. I think the soundtrack can make or break an adventure game, but doesn't necessarily impact a strategy game that much. It's really hard to say which element is most important. Some genres, like strategy & 4x games, don't really need super-deep, ultradetailed characters.