Anatomy of a Game Mechanic

Whether discussing game features amongst the design team or communicating them to programmers, lack of proper terminology can obfuscate messages. (Just like how using the word "obfuscate" can obfuscate messages.)

Coders have technical backgrounds and most went through rigorous college-level math classes. As a result, if a designer is trying to explain a desired mechanic but using the wrong terms, the message content can be lost.

The foundations of math provide a convenient basis for understanding most game mechanics, so it generally makes sense to describe game mechanics in established mathematical nomenclature.

The first part of this article is a short primer on visual representation of game mechanics and some proper terms to describe those representations. The second half discusses a few selected game mechanics in more detail for illustrative purposes.

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