Awarding best gameplay to a single game seems a little odd to me. Many games share the same gameplay elements, but their implementation is different. For me the question is about gameplay – the core elements that make you play a game. That’s why I think the best gameplay has to go to sandbox games. Games like sim city, transport tycoon, minecraft and terraria. These building type games, and particularly the last two are extremely addictive because there are no goals set by the games. All the goals you set are your own, and so you should be fully invested in achieving those goals. If you want to clear out and entire area that’s fine, if you want to build the tallest tower go right ahead, if you want a house made from glass with an infinity pool looking out on the the ocean that’s fine too.

Minecraft – just one more block…

The second things these games do so well is give you feedback and rewards. Everything you do gives you something back, some indication that you are closer to your goal than before you did it. Mine a block and you get a block and a space, build a tower and you create a block. You get a very real feeling that you are always working toward the goals you yourself set, and you can see that those goals are achievable, and that you are a little closer to them.

It’s that very compelling combination of intrinsic goals and constant feedback that gives sandbox games the best gameplay in my book.