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INFR 1330 (2014) Basic Introduction to Game Design

Game System Dynamics

Cite this article as: Lennart Nacke. (October 1, 2014). Game System Dynamics. The Acagamic. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from http://www.acagamic.com/courses/infr1330-2014/game-system-dynamics/.

Welcome to the fourth week of class in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Thanks for coming over from GameCareerGuide if you read my guest post there. Make sure to read the syllabus and course information before you continue. Today, we are going to discuss system dynamics in games. This text follows closely from our textbooks (Game Design Workshop, Chapter 5, Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 2, and Salen and Zimmerman Rules of Play chapters 13,14,16,17,18). In previous lectures, we have discussed the utility of rules. As game designers, we use rules to determine the actions players can take and the outcome of those actions. In digital games, the game logic often provides parts of the rules of your game. The audiovisual manifestation of your game (even the story of your game) is however not considered a component of the formal elements of games. When audiovisual elements influence the formal structure of your game, this should be considered as a factor of your game rules. Salen and Zimmerman distinguish between constituative rules and operational rules as well as implicit rules.

  • Constituative rules are all about a game’s internal events. They are the main logic behind your game. In a digital game, these are contained directly in the code of your game.
  • Operational rules are all the rules needed to run the game (not just the constituative or internal events) including all external events related to your game, such as input and output of the game, the way that you express choice in your game and how outcomes are defined for players.
  • Implicit rules are the unstated assumptions of a game (often similar to a player’s honour code, but also relating to the nature of the computing platform that your game runs on). Implicit rules often relate to the contextual situation of a game that we are taking for granted. However, this contextual situation can be played with, to experiment with innovations in game design.

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Pac-Man Things
INFR 1330 (2014) Basic Introduction to Game Design

The formal systems of games and game design atoms

Cite this article as: Lennart Nacke. (September 12, 2014). The formal systems of games and game design atoms. The Acagamic. Retrieved December 10, 2018, from http://www.acagamic.com/courses/infr1330-2014/the-formal-systems-of-games-and-game-design-atoms/.

Welcome to the second week of class in the course: Basic Introduction to Game Design. Make sure to read the syllabus and course information before you continue. Today, we are going to discuss the formal system structures of games (an introduction to its formal and dramatic elements) and game design atoms. This text follows closely from our textbooks (Game Design Workshop, Chapters 2 & 3 and Challenges for Game Designers, Chapter 2); it also takes inspiration from the Salen and Zimmerman book Rules of Play (Chapters 5,6,7). Keep in mind that game design is a field of practice and even when you are reading all the information from this course, there is no substitute for working on some games at home for practice.

The Definition of Games

Rather than pondering on the exact definitions of game here (many of which can be found in Rules of Play, Chapter 7), we want to look at what’s most useful to us as game designers.

“Design is the process by which a designer creates a context to be encountered by a participant, from which meaning emerges.” (Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman)

This quote from the Rules of Play book encapsulates the main items that we should focus on as game designers: (1) Context, which can be the spaces, objects, story and behaviours that you encounter in games. (2) Participants are your players that act upon your game context for example via manipulation or exploration. They inhabit your game world to play. (3) Meaning is a concept that we have already mentioned last week when we talked about meaningful choice. When players take actions in your game, meaningful play should emerge from the agency that players feel. Meaning here is tied to the value of significance of something encountered in a game for the individual player. Even in real life, meaning is important to us because it helps us navigate through our world and interpret the people and the world around us. Our everyday interactions are essentially guided by meaning-making. Continue reading

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