This article takes a look back on the influential work of designer Redmond A. Simonsen in game design.
Research on how to design better games is ongoing, and it can benefit from theoretical frameworks, such as the Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics (MDA) model, and the Distinctive Feature (DF) framework, that we proposed in a previous paper. This paper presents further research about the DF framework, which was conducted in two distinct phases. In the first phase, we created a tentative inventory of DFs, with focus on strategical analysis characteristics. In the second phase, our focus was on an inventory of DFs able to model cooperative mechanics in games. In both phases, we based our findings on empirical data, collected from participants in extension courses on modern board games. The MDA framework offered a key insight in the analysis of collected data. Accordingly, the results indicate that the MDA framework can be used as a guideline for the development of new DF systems, enabling game designers to create better products.
Cooperative or collaborative processes feature in many activities. Some authors distinguish cooperation from collaboration [Roschelle and Teasley 1995; Cogo 2006], based on the interpersonal dynamics between the participants. These distinctions, however, superimpose a simple dichotomy over a complex reality. In order to explore several different cooperation dynamics, we offered an extension course, in which the enrolled participants played several cooperative board games. In this paper, we have used distinctive features (DFs) vectors [Duarte, Battaiola, and Silva 2014] to represent these games’ main characteristics. One of our results is, accordingly, a DF inventory which can be used to represent cooperative games. The other result is a better understanding of interpersonal dynamics in cooperative environments
User Experience (UX) is a key feature in game design, where it is known as gameplay. Research on how to achieve better gameplay is ongoing, and it can benefit from theoretical frameworks, such as the Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics (MDA) model [Hunicke et al. 2004], and the distinctive feature (DF) framework, that we proposed in a previous paper [Duarte et al. 2014]. This paper presents further research about the DF framework. In the course of pilot studies, we created a tentative inventory of DFs, with focus on strategical analysis characteristics. Following this, we offered an extension course, in which enrolled participants were asked to play several modern board games, and to evaluate them according to those characteristics. The collected data was compared to our tentative inventory, and the MDA framework offered a key insight in the analysis. The results indicate that the MDA framework can be used as a guideline for the development of new DF systems, enabling game designers to create better products.
O cerne deste trabalho é a proposta de uma estrutura (framework) para o estudo de jogos, utilizando traços distintivos (TDs), um conceito inspirado em estudos linguísticos, que permite a descrição formal de características de jogos, mesmo as de caráter mais subjetivo.
This is a Gamasutra blog post. Here, I discussed the MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics) theoretical framework (proposed by Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubeck in 2004), noting some of its limitations with regard to board games.
The modification to MDA that I presented here arose from the discussions of my master’s dissertation, and it is an important part of the theoretical foundations for the DF framework.
We propose a conceptual framework first used in phonology — the distinctive features(DFs) system — for the study of games. DFs represent key characteristics of a phenomenon. This enables a formal representation of characteristics of games, and can be used as one of the elements in a comprehensive, formal description of games. The DF system does not need a definition of “game”, even if such a definition can exist. It can be used to represent any artifact identified as a game. The system is flexible and extensible; a particular set of DFs can be tailored according to the needs of the researcher.