MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research
Authored by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek
I downloaded this doc (above) a while back, "re-discovered" it floating around my desktop this morning, and thought I'd share it with all of you. I think I may have originally found it on the internet while googling my name in relation to game design, as you'll notice one of the authors is a "Marc LeBlanc" (no relation to yours truly).
Here's the paper's abstract:
In this paper we present the MDA framework (standing for Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics), developed and taught as part of the Game Design and Turning Worshop at the Game Developers Conference, San Jose 2001-2004.
MDA is a formal approach to understanding games – one which attempts to bridget the gap between game design and development, game criticism, and technical game research. We believe this methodology will clarify and strengthen the iterative processes of developers, scholars and researchers alike, making it easier for all parties to decompose, study and design a broad class of game designs and game artifacts.
"MDA" (Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics) is a game design framework used a tool in game analyzation. It breaks a game into three components (mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics... duh), and provides "precise definitions" for each, as a way of understanding how they relate to one another, as well as how they relate to the player experience. From wikipedia:
Mechanics are the base components of the game -
its rules, every basic action the player can take in the game,
the algorithms and data structures in the game engine etc.
Dynamics are the run-time behavior of the mechanics
acting on player input and "cooperating" with other mechanics.
Aesthetics are the emotional responses evoked in the player -
joy, frustration, fantasy, fellowship.
I could go on here and list a bunch of other stuff from Marc's website (including his classification of "eight kinds of 'fun'"), but I'll just send you his to web page instead. Dig through the stuff there, and feel free to comment below on what strikes your interest and feels particularly relevant to you and why. (I, myself, am overwhelmed with client work right now, so I have not had too much of a chance to dig, and will likely have little chance to respond right away, but don't let that stop you.)