This will likely be the first in an ongoing series.
What makes a game a good game? My first reaction is to answer this by saying, “there isn’t just one thing that will make a game a good game.” I feel comfortable saying that, but it also feels like an escape.
It’s true that people should play the games they like. Edition wars a just plain stupid, and there simply too many games out there for people to be quibbling over who makes the best game.
There are traits of games though that make them good or bad. The list is long, but some examples are, the organization of the text. Does reading the book make sense, or does it feel chaotic to follow the game system? Is it ugly? This matters less, but an attractive game is definitely possible, and always a reward for the reader. Are the rules consistent? Does everything work in concert, and does it work the same way every time? Poor design can lead to chaotic results.
Finding just one thing and assuming that is the determining factor of whether or not a game is good is basically a fruitless endeavor. If a game doesn’t work, there probably isn’t just one thing, unless the mechanical system underlying the game simply doesn’t operate in a coherent manner. Barring that, a game needs to evaluated in its entirety. It is the really the only fair way of working out if it actually a good, or bad game.