These are the graphics, animation, music, sound, and writing elements that sets the video game’s mood and feeling. Aesthetics are part of the Motif layer of video game play.
One of the two time-based Fundamentals. This is the end state of the video game and it entails any of the following:
> Countdown/Time – need to reach in-game goal under a certain time
> Lives – lose all of your remaining in-game lives
> First Set Score – first player to score required points
> Boredom/Finished – since introducing of save-game feature, any game is at risk of becoming boring to the Player. Alternatively, some games are completed once and are considered finished.
> Celestial Discharge – the death of the Player, Hardware, or Software
These are video game’s essential Software traits that focus on time-space and includes Perspective, Ending, Terrain, and Timing (PETT). Two are related to time (Ending and Timing) and two are related to space (Perspective and Terrain). Fundamentals are the middle, engineered layer of video game play.
The play of measurement is one of the two asymmetrical Motifs. Whatever that can be counted can be used as a Game. This can include in-game currency, character traits, game physics, etc. Here are some examples:
> Time – race against the clock
> Space – movement between locations
> Counting– measuring tokens, traits, and points
> Achievements – an accumulation of measurables
The synthesis of Motifs, Fundamentals, and Mechanics that gets marketed as a product (CRPG, FPS, RTS, MMO, MOBA, 4X, retro, etc).
The physical-world tools used by Players to interact with video game Software.
The in-game tools given to Players to interact with the The limitless, in-game tools given to Players to interact with the video game. Mechanics are the foundational, technical layer of video game play. There are four aspects to each Mechanic: Tools, Obstacles, Skills, and Rules.
These are patterns that communicate ways of playing the video game. There are open, asymmetrical, and symmetrical styles. There are two open Motifs (Toys & Playgrounds and Show & Tell), two asymmetrical Motifs (Puzzles and Games), and one symmetrical Motif (Sports). Motifs are the highest, conceptual layer of video game play.
The second of the space-based Fundamentals. This is the in-game play space navigated by the Player through in-game Tools. The in-game space can be a 2D grid, a 3D level, or an abstract field. In-game Tools would be avatars, menus, icons/buttons, displays, maps, levels, UI, and HUDs
The AI/Player opponents, puzzles, resource limits, plot complexity, map design and more that challenges the Player. The Player uses the Tools to overcome these Obstacles. An unbalanced video game would have Tools that are poorly matched against the Obstacles and would lead to disillusionment.
One of the two space-based Fundamentals. The video game’s visual narrator that directs the Player’s visual attention and can be a locked screen, trailing camera (side-view, top-down, isometric-view), a floating camera, or first person view.
Human willpower (or volition) manifested in the video game’s Software. Most times the Player is the protagonist of the video game. Other times there are multiple Players who play with or against each other. The rest of the time the Player is an impersonal force that controls the video game’s Mechanics (e.g. Tetris).
The pathway from beginning to end of a game; these are the facts of a Story and can be as simple as an instruction set or an elaborate multiple-sequence of events. The Plot is part of the Motif layer of video game play.
The play of matching is the second of the two asymmetrical Motifs. Any element that possesses a trait can be used to distinguish or complement another element to match the solution to a Puzzle. Here are some examples:
> Symbols – letters or numbers as basis for matches
> Shapes – objects that represent non-language as basis for matches
> Colours – spectrum of light as basis for matches
> Sounds – range of pitch and duration as basis for matches
> Patterns – repeating using memory
> Math(s) – using deduction to solve incomplete logic
> Mazes – following a path through barriers
The reward or punishment when the Player’s Tool Skill matches or does not match the Obstacles. Rules reinforce Player behavior and an unbalanced video game that improperly rewards/punishes would lead to disillusionment.
This is the backdrop for the Plot and Story and can range from the abstract of no place/time to an elaborate, complex multiverse.
Show & Tell
The play of expression & recognition is one of two open Motifs. There are almost infinite ways to communicate. Here are some examples:
> Serve & Return – Basic communication through verbal, para-verbal, and non-verbal means
> Signals  – signs that require constant encoding and interpretation
> Symbols – signs that are more static and require subtle interpretation
> Role-Plays – using behaviour to communicate and experience meaning
The Player’s synthesis of complexity and depth. Complexity is the mixture of the video game’s Tools. Depth is the Player’s openness, intelligence, knowledge, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination that groks the Complexity.
Skill levels will range (none, beginner, medium, high, and master) and depend on the Complexity (none, mild, moderate, advanced, to infinite) being matched by Depth (below, equal, or above). Poorly matched Skills lead Players to become bored or overwhelmed, while properly matched Skills can lead to flow.
The coded logic and framework that provides Motifs, Fundamentals, and Mechanics for play.
The play of competition is the sole symmetrical Motif. Using measurables found in Games we can now compare and compete between opponents via player vs player, player vs computer, player vs environment, etc. Here are some examples:
> Pick-up – a single, non-cumulative match
> Series – win the majority of matches in a set
> Tournament – a changeable collection of competitors
> League – an exclusive collection of competitors
> Pan-Sport – competing via non-match outcomes (such as achievements)
This is the subjective reporting of the Plot. This ranges from a Player recounting their experience to a NPC’s retelling of a Plot event.
The second of the time-based Fundamentals. This is the pace by which the video game is being played and can be Turn-based, Real-time, or a Phased meshing of the two.
The avatars (generic representation), characters (in-game personality), units (collectives), and abstract objects provided by the video game to the Player. These Tools typically contain many different qualities and abilities and give the Player the means to overcome the Obstacles arrayed against them.
Toys & Playgrounds
The play of exploration is the second of two open Motifs. There are almost infinite ways to physically interact with objects with impromptu rules. Here are the two main examples:
> Toys – objects that are played with freely and with transient rules
> Playgrounds – spaces that are played with freely and with transient rules