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 25 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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