Most game designers, especially the ones in the industry, know that the more hours you get out of your game the better it will sell. Games like Skyrim are made to pull players in for hours and hours without the players getting bored of the game.
Of course, not all "long" games are worth playing, and some companies are very good at pulling players in for hours and hours while failing to deliver an overall satisfactory experience that players could get from other games(Like Call of Duty). But these games can still sell very well, and that is why it is important for all game designers to understand repetition and how to make players do the same things over and over again without getting bored.
It is almost always guaranteed that players are going to be doing the same thing over and over if they are playing a game, especially for a long period of time. It's the job of the game designers not only to make this fun but also to make it so the players don't get bored of it. The magic of excellent modern game design draws players in to the world, creating an illusory sense of mystery and forcing the player to always be intrigued by what they may see next.
There are many ways to make your repetition work. One way is to consistently introduce new game mechanics encouraging new game-play styles up until the very end of the game. For example, in Batman: Arkham City the player will be seeing new enemy types and new game-play challenges right up until the final level. The game never stops throwing new elements of game-play at you, and the player almost feels as if they are always learning something new about the game. For example, on the very last level the player is introduced to stun baton wielding enemies that must be defeated a certain way which only appear on the main quest 1-2 times. On top of that, the Riddler Challenges constantly encourage the player to try new and unique things. I could go on for a while about Arkham City's excellent use of repetition, but I'll save you the tl;dr
You don't have to always be introducing new game mechanics to make your repetition work well. In fact, games like Skyrim can make you do the same thing over and over again without it ever getting boring. This is because of the illusory sense of intrigue that well designed worlds have. As you adventure throughout the land of Skyrim, you will encounter hundreds of different dungeons. Almost every single dungeon has its own unique story and this constant refreshing sense of being able to experience something totally unique in every level allows players to be able to do the same things over and over again without getting bored. The game as a whole has a sense of world, as if it is alive. Players will spend hours and hours playing the game even if that means doing the same things again and again because the game presents these tasks in a unique way every time.
I hope that was informative. There are plenty of other ways repetition is used and repetition is -far- from being the only element of game design that i could go into discussing but its a good one nonetheless and its on my mind
Apr 3 2012, 2:03 pm