In movies, there's a simple rule: if you haven't hooked the audience by the time the film's ten minutes in, you've lost them. But how can this work for video games?

A great piece over on Gamasutra by Leanne C. Taylor offers some ideas, showing how some of the industry's most successful games have used "hooks" very similar to those of big movies to grab gamer's attention.


Sounds simple, and it is, especially when you think about games that have stuck to it. Compare Starcraft - which opens with a mystery, the destruction of a Terran ship - to Starcraft II, which jumps straight into the boots of a cast of established characters and events.

Or look at Oblivion, which opens with both history and mystery, and as a result ranks as one of the greatest introductions to a game of all time. or BioShock's, which is even better.

Thing is, Taylor's theory - which I agree with - only holds true for games that make use of a story. That feature characters, dialogue, plot sequences. If you're sitting down with, say, Tetris, or Minesweeper, or even Farmville, well, the game's mechanics are on their own, and the movie industry's rules aren't going to be of any use whatsoever.


History, Mystery and Story: Games and the 10 Minute Rule [Gamasutra]