Game Mechanics

cogsRecently I’ve talked a number of groups about making experiences more playful. Instrumental in those discussions has been a consideration of the elements at our disposal.  Here is my combination of the various definitions of game mechanics offered by WikipediaSCVNGR &

  1. Achievements – Achievements are a virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something.
  2. Action points – Action points limit or control which actions a player performs each turn.
  3. Appointments – Appointment dynamic requires the player to perform some action at a predetermined time or place.
  4. Auction/ Bidding – An auction or bidding system encourages players to make competitive bids in order to win some prize.
  5. Behavioural momentum – Behavioural momentum is the tendency of players to keep doing what they have been doing.
  6. Bonuses/ Modifiers – Bonuses are a reward after having completed a series of challenges or core functions.
  7. Capture/ Eliminate – Players must capture or eliminate their opponent’s tokens.
  8. Cards – Cards can act as a randomiser to affect game conditions or as tokens to track game states.
  9. Cascading Information Theory – The theory that information should be released in the minimum possible snippets to gain the appropriate level of understanding at each point during a game narrative.
  10. Catch-up – Catch up is a device that makes success more difficult the closer a player gets to it.
  11. Challenge – Challenges have a time limit or competition.
  12. Collaboration – The game dynamic wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a riddle, a problem or a challenge.
  13. Combos – Combos are used often in games to reward skill through doing a combination of things.
  14. Countdown – The dynamic in which players are only given a certain amount of time to do something 
  15. Dice/ Lottery – Randomisers that determine the outcome of an interaction in a game.
  16. Discovery – Also called Exploration, players love to discover something, to be surprised.
  17. Goals – Goals are conditions of victory or success.
  18. Levels – Levels are a system, or “ramp”, by which players are rewarded an increasing value for an accumulation of points.
  19. Loss avoidance – Players have to avoid losing tokens, points or position.
  20. Movement – The controlled movement of tokens.
  21. Penalties – The negative consequence of some behaviour or action.
  22. Piece elimination – Whereby the winner captures or destroys the other players’ pieces.
  23. Progression – A dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks.
  24. Puzzle guessing – The player who successfully guesses or deduces the answer to a puzzle wins the game
  25. Quests – Quests are a journey of obstacles a player must overcome.
  26. Races – The goal of achieving a certain position first
  27. Resource management – The management of game resources including tokens money and points.
  28. Reward schedules – The timeframe and delivery mechanisms through which rewards (points, prizes, level ups) are delivered.
  29. Risk and reward – Risk and reward offers players extra benefits for optional actions.
  30. Role-playing – Role-playing determines the effectiveness of in game actions depending on how authentically the player acts out the role of a fictional character.
  31. Status – The rank or level of a player. Players are motivated by trying to reach a higher level or status.
  32. Structure building – The goal of acquiring and assembling a set of game resources into a predefined structure or one that is better than that of the other players.
  33. Territory control – The goal of controlling the most area on playing surface.
  34. Tile-laying – Tile laying involves players laying down objects in order to gather points or affect the game world.
  35. Toys/ Endless play – Games that do not have an explicit end.
  36. Turns – Turns allow players to act or respond in sequence.

I’d be interested if you can think of any more. Please get in touch if you have extra mechanics you think I should include, or if you’d like me to come and talk to you about how your organisation might make experiences more playful.