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Content in video games, whether it's new gameplay or plot, can be presented to the player in various ways.
Sometimes, the developers keep a taut pace with the content, keeping large areas, optional items and sidequests to a minimum to maintain that pace; these games are content intensive and have "Denser" content. Other times, developers space out the content so that the main portion of the game is experienced much slower and amidst a myriad of extra options; these games are content extensive and have "Wider" content.
Each approach has potential boons and drawbacks. Games with Density can easily maintain the player's attention and provide a meaty experience within a relatively short playtime, but the types of experiences can be fairly limited and not very cerebral. Games with Width offer a broad palette of experiences over a frequently long playtime and a potential for greater World Building (in games that actually have plot), but can also leave players bored by the pacing or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content.
Genres that tend to be Denser include Action, racing games, Casual Video Games, Platformers, and Rail Shooters. Genres that tend to be Wider include Adventure, Action Adventure, Role Playing Games, Strategy Games, and Wide Open Sandboxes. Gaming in general saw a shift to Width with the Video Game 3D Leap during the 5th console generation.
Tangentially related to the Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness, as Linearity typically correlates with Density, while Openness typically correlates with Width. Fake Longevity is sometimes present in games on the Width end of the scale. The Super-Trope of Sliding Scale of Video Game World Size and Scale.
Instances where the Scale was consciously considered when producing a game:
- Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma feel that The Legend of Zelda got a bit too Wide with Twilight Princess. This is why they made sure that Skyward Sword was Denser.