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Shared Vocabulary for Game Design

Page history last edited by SteveEG 12 years, 6 months ago


I have a rough concept of what I would like to do here and hope that others will improve on my ramblings here!

I am an Artist by trade and training (Animator). So this is my personal preference in the way I will approaching this project. (i.e. Visual )

If other people have a different approach to this they should link to this page so we can compare notes and share ideas.


Steven Goodman



PROJECT: Shared Vocabulary for Game Design



To create a lexicon of reusable terms for communicating the aspects and nuances of designing games and define their proper usage and importance.



FUN! Artistic, Creative, Open-minded, free-form word association, mind-maps, etc...




ONE: Experiment in Word Manipulation 

First we need to find and Identify the many words that may be of Importance to the understanding of games and a game design discussion. 


Wordle for PDF of I Have No Words & I Must Design:Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games by Greg Costikyan (http://www.wordle.net/

Wordle for PDF of I Have No Words & I Must Design:Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games by Greg Costikyan (http://www.wordle.net/)

If you have trouble viewing this wordle picture use this link!


Things I noticed from my first look.


The twenty most popular words from this Wordle. 

  1. game, Games
  2. players, player
  3. Design
  4. structure
  5. One
  1. GOALS, goal
  2. struggle
  3. Words
  4. make
  5. like
  1. world
  2. People
  3. interactive
  4. entertainment
  1. Must
  2. way
  3. good
  4. many
  5. play



Words with a little emphases.

                                                  Games, game               One               Words               People               Must


Words with more emphases.

                                     GOALS, goal               MEANING               ENDOGENOUS (#48 in the list)               INTERACTION



The word 'fun' is not emphasised nor is it highly important?     Why not?

                                                                                                                    fun (#87 in the list) 


The word 'rules' is also not high in priority, but it beat fun?     Why?     Are rules more important than fun?

                                                                                                                   rules (#63 in the list)



Comments (7)

CalaveraX said

at 9:01 am on Jul 1, 2009

Gameplay is a very important concept in Game Design :)

ryan.kinal@gmail.com said

at 9:20 am on Jul 1, 2009

@CalaveraX: That is true, but gameplay is derived from the rules of the game.

On a related note, and in response to the questions about the word "fun" and the word "rules", the fun of a game is derived from two things: the rules of the game, and the color of the game (in general, and obvioulsy, in my opinion). The rules determine what can be accomplished in the game, and how. The color determines (or, perhaps, just influences?) the point of view from which a player sees his actions.

The combination of these determines how much fun a player may be having in the game. There may be other factors, but these are the big two.

Grétar said

at 6:54 pm on Jul 1, 2009

I would say that "Fun" is dependent on a certain set of rules. Only by getting the rules right can you create fun.

Sergio K said

at 8:16 am on Jul 2, 2009

In my opinion, games aren't always meant to be fun, I think they're meant to create an experience on the player (though most of the time, that experience is to have fun). If we're to make the general public see games as art, I believe we've got to expand our goals when making games, stop being fixated on making games "fun", and try incorporating more elements, topics, even mechanics, into creating a different experience for the player, kind of like movies that aren't meant to be fun, but tell a serious story that makes you react and think about. Brenda Brathwaite's Train game comes to my mind.

tony cotter said

at 8:30 am on Jul 2, 2009

Originality is another very important aspect in game design.
And in my opinion, if you design a game that is not fun to play, then its not really a good game is it?
I think designers are actually fixated with over the top graphics, and what we should really focus on doing is trying improve aspects like the AI in games cos' lets face it, in most Rainbow Six games that I have played, you are better off most of the time, just playing through each level yourself rather than let your commrades help you cos' they are very stupid. Dont get me wrong, the AI in games improving, but we still have alot of work to do in terms of it too.

tony cotter said

at 8:34 am on Jul 2, 2009

Also, when I design games, I look to the indie games scene for inspiration. that is where some of the best ideas come from.
Crayon Physics comes to my mind. Thats real game design.

Pedro "xeoncat" Miranda said

at 12:23 pm on Jul 3, 2009

Wait, why is it that we're departing the shared vocabulary from a random article? Even if it is an article about game design, the weight of a word does not represent its importance in the game design scene, because the weight is measure from how many times it is referred in that precise article and has absolutely no meaning on a global scope. We must do this with conscience. There are good words on these comments that are important:

Objective, Rules, Gameplay, Fun, Experience, Art, Originality, etc. All of those words are important, but most of them aren't objective at all. Fun is really important in games, but how do I define that quality? What I classify as fun is not the same for everybody. I think that the construction of a shared vocabulary falls a lot into Philosophy and Psychology fields. We need phenomenological studies (i.e. a study of the phenomenons of gaming). How the players themselves feel when playing a game? how do they define a game and if those qualities can be boxed into global objective concepts.
All the qualities of a game need to be defined so then we can think of how to make a game more like this or more like that.

As a player I remember having long discussions about the Gameplay vs. Realism in Video Games (check the Orbiter Space Simulator for example, which is a realistic simulator of spaceflight).

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