The 4 Elements of Game Design
Today started out as a beautiful day, a day filled with joy and excitement. But it all came crashing down when I came across a question, a very important question about game design, that surprising enough does not have a solid and concerete answer that everyone would agree on.
Before I knew it, I had spent hours on what I now know to be some sort of a philosophical question. “If a game is developed and no one is there to play it, does it make a sound?” That sort of question. But that wasn’t exactly my question, oh no my friend, my question was a lot simpler … What is a Game?
Seeing as to how I could not find an answer that would satisfy me, or at least an answer that two different people would be able to agree on, I decided to ask a different question, one that just happens to have an answer that seems to be acceptable by everyone (maybe not, let me know in the comments).
“What makes a Game?”
And without further ado I give to you …
The 4 Elements that form a Game
Now, please keep in mind, soon you will realize that all these elements are equally important in game design and the listing here is just that, a list, it does not emphasize any importance on any of the items over the others. Especially since they all work together to create the experience for the player.
The Mechanics are the rules of your game. The challenges the players has to over come. The steps they have to follow to accomplish the goal of your game. The achievements they would obtain throughout the game. What happens when they accomplish a goal or what happens when they try and fail? It is the mechanics that set games apart from other forms of entertainment.
For example, books and movies, they have all the other elements but they do not have the Mechanics. Therefore, it is the mechanics that make a game a Game.
When you choose a set of mechanics as crucial to your gameplay, you will need to choose technology that can support them, aesthetics that emphasize them clearly to players, and a story that allows your (sometimes strange) game mechanics to make sense to the players. – Jesse Schell
The story does not require a lot of explanation, we all know what defines a story. The events that unfold. The characters and the player. What is important though, is how does story interact with other elements? You, as a game designer, have to choose the mechanics of the game that aid in telling the story. You decide on the aesthetics that add life to your story and present the ideas in the way that is intended by you. Idealistically, you would pick a technology that would equip you with the best tools to tell your story.
The aesthetics is the most important aspect in my opinion because they are directly tied to the experience that is felt by the player(s), the experience that you try so hard to create for them. The aesthetics makes your game look the way it does, sound the way it does, feel the way it does or even taste the way it does. Anything and everything that somehow is attached to the senses are created by the aesthetics. You need to set a tone for your game that intensifies the story and consumes the player(s) within the game environment.
Just imagine a simulation game like “The Sims” or first-person-shooter game like “Call of Duty”. How are they different? They look, sound and feel totally different.
All the aesthetics are used the way they are, to create those essentials experiences that the game designers aim to create for the player(s). The experiences that are so unique and enjoyable that lead to multiple sequels and expansions.
Lastly, you need to pick a technology that gives you the tools to create these aesthetics.
By technology, I don’t simply mean, Playstation 3 or Nintendo DS, I mean the tools that aid you to accomplish everything else I mentioned above. They should allow for the creation of the aesthetics, the placement of the mechanics and be used as a medium to tell the story. The technology could be as simple as a pen and a paper, it can be a set of die (plural of dice), it can be a joystick, an iPhone or some other technology that is yet to be invented.
(Fun fact: The game designers of Space Invaders created their own technology for the game. Prior to that the technology did not exist to create a game similar to Space Invaders.)
PS: Your comments are welcomed. Do you agree with the 4 elements? What other elements do you believe is essential to form a game?（source:farshidpalad）