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Games, Design and Play: A Detailed Approach to Iterative Game Design by John Sharp, Colleen Macklin

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Chapter 1. Games, Design and Play

The first step in learning any medium is understanding its basic elements. In this chapter, we begin taking games apart to see how they work. We identify the six basic elements of play design: actions, goals, rules, objects, playspace, and players.

When we talk about playing games, we often talk about them in the same way we do movies, books, and music—as a form of mass media. This isn’t a surprise—since the rise of the Magnavox Odyssey, Pong, and the Atari VCS in the 1970s, games have often been treated as simply another kind of entertainment media. And videogames are the same in many ways—we learn about, purchase, and experience games in quite similar ways to movies, music, even books. But just because games ...

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