Elements of Game Design
An introduction to the basic concepts of game design, focusing on techniques used in commercial game production.
This textbook by a well-known game designer introduces the basics of game design, covering tools and techniques used by practitioners in commercial game production. It presents a model for analyzing game design in terms of three interconnected levels—mechanics and systems, gameplay, and player experience—and explains how novice game designers can use these three levels as a framework to guide their design process. The text is notable for emphasizing models and vocabulary used in industry practice and focusing on the design of games as dynamic systems of gameplay.
The book first introduces the core model and framework for analyzing and designing games. It then discusses the three levels in detail, explaining player experience and identifying design goals; introducing low-level structural analysis of gameplay in terms of basic mechanics; describing how mechanics build up into systems; and presenting concepts for understanding gameplay, defined as the dynamic behavior of players when they interact with mechanics and systems. Finally, the book offers students advice on creating game prototypes using an iterative, user-centered process. Each chapter offers a set of exercises for individuals and design challenges for groups.