I talked about this a little bit yesterday, though that was rather specific to Tetris.
Even though some games seem really simple when you first look at them, you may discover they actually have a lot of depth. This depth may stem from content (in which breadth would be a better term) or how much there is to the gameplay. In the latter case, you’ll frequently find yourself discovering new gameplay elements as you progress in skill. The things you discover may not be part of what has been implemented in the game, but rather the things they… imply, for lack of a better word.
More concretely, this can mean figuring out new strategic possibilities, different paths to take or other details to be on the lookout for. These are the things that separate the new players from the good ones, and the good ones from the best. They provide different levels of play.
This kind of depth seems almost essential when looking to make a game competitive in whatever way. And it’s mighty obvious, too. There can be no display of skill if there is nothing to display the skill with. This is why pressing a button can’t really be made into a competitive activity. You either press the button, or you don’t. There are no good button pressers and bad button pressers. Just a bunch of fools arguing over who is which.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m presently suffering from crippling hunger, so I’ll go fix myself a snack or five.