The lights are on
I'd like to vote, but I guess I'm not at the right status.
To me, gameplay is more important than story. I can have a blast playing a game, even when a game has a terrible story. But I can't enjoy a game that isn't fun to play, or has poor controls. Mostly gameplay and fun factor into how good a game is to me. A good story is something that can catapult the gaming experience into something memorable. Final Fantasy X has been my favorite game for a long time, because this game combined both elements (well, all elements) perfectly into one perfect game.
Ya I can't vote. Someone said you need bronze status? I'm new so I have no idea how the whole system works.
I think its a matter of personal preference. Some people think game play is important while others think that the story is more important. Hell I've met people who think the graphics make or break a game. Personally I perfer a game with an amazing story than amazing gameplay but if both work together to make an amazing experience than it'll beat one with just one or the other any day. Though I have to admit sometimes I don't really want to think about a story or the character; sometimes I'd really rather just blow up some grunts in a blast of confetti to the sound of children cheering.
A good game is nothing without a story and a story is nothing without a good game.
To the newbians out there: look at your bio page, on the righthand side and about midway down (depending on if you've entered online gaming info) and you should see a Stats heading, under the stats there's a link to follow that explains the points system. However, if you're a subscriber to the mag you get access to many features at a lower points lvl (or you attain a higher level with higher points).
Anyway for me, I voted "both gameplay and story are important," it kinda depends, a game like MW2, which I buy for the multiplayer could get by without a single player element and I wouldn't really care; however the added single player campaign in an FPS, when done well is certainly a bonus and probably gives it an edge over say MAG (which I believe is only online with few story elements, if that's not the case, then say Unreal Tournament). However, strong story elements are what make GTA4 the best game in that series for me; what makes the Mass Effect series so great (despite the fact that I don't always love the combat systems); what makes any larger single player game more playable.
But you're always going to have your outliers; take say Bioshock, which certainly has a strong story, but many of the elements of which are actually tied more to the setting than actual narrative. Or take Civilization Revolution, which doesn't really have a story of its own, but which builds on human history to provide those elements to very strong gameplay.
Geometry Wars or Tetris or really most puzzle games, have basically zero story (though the Winterbottoms and PuzzleQuests of the world are changing that a bit), but it could hardly be said they are lacking as pick up and play classics; gameplay boiled down to pure elements.
So while strong story certainly doesn't hurt, and there's been big strides in this area as time goes on; I don't think we remember Super Mario Bros. for the story elements, and that doesn't really hurt such a title. I think that good writing and strong (well developed or fleshed out) characters are a must for story driven games, there are certainly games that succeed on pure gameplay; furthermore, I think that is as it should be.
@NakedSnake: You don't think the Devil May Cry series has fun cutscenes!? Why I never!
To all the new people who can't vote:
GI is just making sure they have people voting who value the opinions, now I'm not saying everyone is like this, but if they let every new member vote they would be getting a lot of votes from people who are "haters" or they just try to vote for the stupidest category. Just contribute to the community a bit, and soon enough you'll be able to share your opinions in the polls.
If you don't have both its like watching reality tv. for those of you who don't know reality tv sucks
Still think GI should allow anyone to vote
I think that both elements are equally needed. Gameplay allows players to interact with a created world, thus distinguishing games from movies. Gameplay is then critical, but not everything. A story provides background for players' actions, circumstances that glue together otherwise routine activities. Without a story, then one just has countless renditions of Pong and Pacman. While games such as Tetris are good in their own way, they would fail to capture and hold my interest in the way that story-driven games have for more than 20 years. For example, I have become greatly interested in the Halo Universe and look forward to movies and other media that continue the canon. It is the stories that allow games to be so diverse and captivating.
seriously how do i vote
Now I know that you have to become a level 5 user to vote.
Anyway, I believe gameplay is just as important as the story in a game because
1. Without gameplay the story would make the game feel like your reading a novel with no incentive to keep playing. Even if the story is very good, why would it be a game without the gameplay in the first place?
2. Without a story the gameplay, no matter how good it is, will make you think "What am I fighting for?" In the end the gameplay will have no reason to exist if there is no background of the character to understand what is happening or an explanation of the gameplay.
Overall, you need story to be as important as the gameplay
I still think it depends on what you're looking for in a game, and what chunk of time you have to devote. If I only have half an hour to play, I'm going to go for something more casual like a puzzler or arcade shooter (such as Chime or Geometry Wars), as opposed to something that takes more involvement with the story elements like Mass Effect2 or Fallout 3, etc.
So I think the need for gameplay is first, then the need for story comes in when a gamer is looking for a higher level of involvement; a level of involvement which is not required to enjoy games intended to be enjoyed in small blocks and therefore doesn't need much depth of story to carry you along.
It depends on the game. Personally, I like story in RPG's and games like BioShock. Not all FPS's capture some basics well enough for me to care enough for the story and I need that.
For most of my life as a gamer, I've sided with the first perspective. Story is crucial for me to really walk away from the game with something greater than just pixelated memories and achievements.
However, there are always exceptions and I'd like to use Dante's Inferno as the most recent example. The story in that game is abysmal, yet the gameplay was fantastic. Sure, it was essentially a carbon-copy, but still a tried-and-true style. To revert to cliche: "Don't fix what isn't broken."
Also, games like Plants Vs. Zombies and Team Fortress 2 have next to nothing in terms of story. Has that stopped these games from being fantastic? Of course not.
Sometimes we just need some mindless fun. :)
Good call on bringing PvZ into the conversation: it was a great game, one of the most lauded of last year, and as you say, has no story to speak of and isn't any worse off for that fact.