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Players Making Decisions: Game Design Essentials and the Art of Understanding Your Players by Zack Hiwiller

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Part 4: Describing Game Elements

I’m only certain that nothing is forever. No matter how carefully you design a system, it will go bad and die.

—POUL ANDERSON, “TAU ZERO”

In 1994, designer Greg Costikyan penned an article for Interactive Fantasy, a British role-playing journal, called “I Have No Words and I Must Design,” lamenting the lack of a unified vocabulary for game design.” It’s now more than 20 years later, and although game studies have come a considerable way, we still lack a unified vocabulary. Many terms, such as “mechanic” or “beta,” have different meanings at different organizations.

Although some may see this as an indicator of the medium’s immaturity, in practice, it serves only as a momentary speed bump. Chapter 1 suggested that ...

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