Definitions, Batch 1

While writing this video game development diary, I realized that definitions are an essential building block to help keep my thinking on track. Below is my first batch of definitions (which are also available here). I was inspired by the examples at and Frictional Games.

1) Hardware
The physical-world tools used by Players to interact with video game Software.

2) Players
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).

3) Software
The coded logic and framework that provides Motifs, Fundamentals, and Mechanics for play.

4) Motifs
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.

5) Fundamentals
These are video game’s essential Software traits that focus on time-space and includes Perspective, Ending, Navigation, and Timing (PENT). Two are related to time (Ending and Timing) and two are related to space (Perspective and Navigation). Fundamentals are the middle, engineered layer of video game play.

6) Mechanics
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.

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