beanz Magazine

Game Play

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You can use the concepts of game play to turn almost any task or information into a game. Assuming you can define game play.

Imagine you’re a teacher or parent and you understand a concept and want to explain it to someone. You could simply write up your understanding or demonstrate how it works.

Most people, however, learn through reading and listening combined with hands on experience. Experience turns information into knowledge. Experience exposes nuances and reinforces information you find through reading or listening. Experience also provides repetition and choices, also key to understanding.

Game play is one way to create controlled experiences to convey information and expose people to the nuances of a subject.

The problem? There is no formal definition of game play. Indeed, it’s often spelled gameplay. And it’s a term used mostly in the video game world. However, using experience to turn information into knowledge applies to almost all things we do and learn.

For this article, I’ve split the word to help emphasize two useful aspects, game and play.

One Definition of Game Play

For video gamers, game play is the set of experiences you encounter as well as all possible alternate paths. A good game builds on the users’ past experience with the game and provides different routes to the same or different goals.

For example, characters in a game could be limited to certain actions which, in turn, define the paths they can follow. This mirrors life where infants can’t do what adults can do. If every character had God-like power, no limitations, the game would quickly turn boring. It’s the combination of limitations and paths (the game) with the repetitive engagement by the player to follow the paths (the play part).

The game designer Sid Meier defined game play as “a series of interesting choices.” The book, Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design, defines game play as “One or more causally linked series of challenges in a simulated environment.”

For our purposes, the word challenges and simulated environment at least suggest limitations and choices. And Meier’s use of the word interesting hints at another important part of game play, telling stories.


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