A Game Design Vocabulary: Exploring the Foundational by Anna Anthropy, Naomi Clark

By Anna Anthropy, Naomi Clark

Video games have usually taken a principal function in pop culture; in reality, corporations are even trying to 'gamify' conventional enterprise strategies. in spite of the fact that, our language for figuring out, discussing, and designing video games has remained primitive - and this has made it more challenging to create nice video games or intelligently evaluation them. this article fills this hole, providing an entire shared framework for figuring out and comparing video game layout - as creators, as gamers, as scholars, as video game decision-makers.


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You might be tempted to say the protagonist, the hero, the gladiators in Joust. The nouns, right? Because in linear stories, we’re used to nouns—people—being the ones who develop. But the protagonists of our games, the nouns, aren’t rules. Verbs are a kind of rule; they’re the most important rules of a game. By a “verb,” I’m referring to any rule that gives the player liberty to act within the rules of the game. Any rule that lets the player change the game state. Any rule that lets the player do something.

Consider Portal (2007) to be in this same tradition: puzzle-solving games with overt, expository storytelling. The game establishes a concise set of verbs very early—the player can join any two points in space by placing a blue portal and an orange portal. These doorways are considered connected no matter where there are. There’s also a pretty concise cast of objects: walls that accept portals, walls (a darker color) that don’t accept portals, blocks that can travel through portals like the protagonist, switches that are opened by the weight of a player or block, gun turrets that fire at the protagonist when they see her but have the same properties as a block.

It gives the player the ability to destroy metal blocks, but only when given the opportunity. And it has a relationship with the other blocks: because it destroys everything connected to it, sometimes the player wants to dig through other blocks to sever connections with a bomb block. This is strengthened by another new rule Leon added: now the bottom of the screen is also lined with spikes, so the player wants to pace her descent carefully. 7). 7 VERBS AND OBJECTS Bomb block predicament in Tombed II.

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