Defining Game Mechanics in a Gamification Context

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Ok. I’ve approached game mechanics a few times, but the conversation still persists and the misuse of terms gets worse and worse! I wanted to put together a little glossary with contextual examples, based on my research – so feel free to disagree.

Mechanic: A distinct set of rules that dictate the outcome of specific interactions within the game.

  • Game Example: Digging blocks is the core mechanic. Crafting is another mechanic.
  • Gamification Example: The drag and drop mechanism in timeline sort challenge. The timer is also a mechanic as is the act of turning over cards in the memory match game.

Dynamic. The emergent outcomes of player and system interactions with game mechanics.

  • Game Example: Building a fortress in Minecraft with friends.
  • Gamification Example: Pooling knowledge in the social chat area to help each other complete the challenges.

Aesthetic/Immersion: The feelings and emotions the game evokes in the player.

  • Game Example: The feeling of loss and sadness when a character dies in The Walking Dead.
  • Gamification Example: The feeling of fiero / epic win when finally cracking that extra tough challenge.

Element: Parts of the games and concepts not described as mechanics, dynamics, aesthetics etc.

  • Game Example: The customisation of a player avatar in Minecraft. Boss battles in Street Fighter 2.
  • Gamification Example: Customisable player images and avatars. Final extra hard challenges in a module.

Feedback Loop: The way the game communicates with the player to encourage more interaction with the game.

  • Game Example: Trophies for achieving specific goals. Points for shooting the bad guys.
  • Gamification Example: Progress awarded for reading a document.

Function: The core workings of a mechanic that takes an input, processes it and has an output.

  • Game Example: The way that the trajectory of a bullet is calculated in real time after it is fired.
  • Gamification Example: The way that progress is calculated after an activity such as a correct answer in a challenge.

Parameter: A variable value that is assigned to functions within parameters that can change the outcome of the function/mechanic.

  • Game Example: How many points a kill is worth. How many points are needed to move up a level.
  • Gamification Example: The time allotted to complete the game. The points given for each challenge.

As I say, this is my opinion based on the last 5 or 6 years of my research and involvement in the gamification industry. What do you agree with, what do you disagree with?

More Guitar Stuff

As you have noticed, I have picked up the guitar once more and am hitting YouTube. This week is a review of the Donner Viper volume pedal. It is a bit long, so the lesson is to try and keep it below 6 minutes!!


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Andrzej Marczewski
About Andrzej Marczewski twitter facebook    
Gamification Consultant with Motivait. I love to write about it, talk about it and bore people to death with it! If you really want to get to know me, check out the About page.

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