Terminology

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There is a lot of digital gaming terminology which is essential for design and discussion on the matter, as well as loads of specific jargon which very much isn’t. You’ve probably guessed which will be touched upon here.

Many of these hinge on the definition of a game so look that up first.

User and player are also important terms to learn beforehand.

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Game mechanic:

“A player action, or set of actions, which can be used to manipulate the game systems to get closer to achieving winning conditions.

Examples:

Player abilities (moving, jumping, using tools), object interactions (picking up, throwing and storing items), system interactions (managing resources, making commands to units).

Basically all the interactions that can be done within the game systems, which are not completely useless in achieving goals, count as game mechanics.

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Gameplay:

“Player decisions and interactions based on game mechanics.”

Examples:

Jumping over a pit, dodging a projectile, waiting for the situation to change before moving on, ordering a group of units to flank the enemy…

These are all simple decisions the player can make within the mechanics in order to achieve victory or at least avoid losing out right.

The existence of an interaction does not make it a game mechanic. If there is no reason or incentive to use an interaction it does not contribute towards gameplay. It might contribute towards role playing, or exploring the fiction, but those are not part of gameplay.

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