In reading “The Art of Game Design” (1), I have been constantly thinking about game creation and design as a whole.
And so, this title “What Are Game Mechanics?” (2) caught my attention and turned out to ultimately be a good read.
I found this following snippet from the latter article to be of particular interest/worth:
…I can put a black box on the table with a hidden button. Unbeknownst to a potential user, pressing the button enough times and the black box will spew out a thousand shiny silver coins…
To turn it into a game, a game designer would need to do several things.
- Encourage Discovery: First, make it obvious that the button in meant to be pushed. Humans are naturally curious creatures, but as game designers, we need to explicitly direct them to take certain actions.
- Encourage Exploration: Second, the designer would put a counter on the front of the machines that lets the user know that their actions are having some impact on the system. The counter provides delightful drips of feedback and it is up to the user to interpret that feedback
- Provide Tool Mastery: Third, the designer would post a note “Payout: 1,000, coins!” Not all games need explicit winning conditions, but hinting at future utility is a highly useful technique for encourage the player to begin interacting with a particular game mechanic.
1. Jesse Schell
2. Written by Danc from Lost Garden