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.
This article was submitted to SBGames XIII (2014 Brazilian Symposium on Digital Games and Entertainment, organized by the Brazilian Computer Science Society). It dealt with the theoretical foundations of the DF framework, as pertaining to Game Studies. The framework would be fully developed in my master’s dissertation, which I presented a few months later.
This article was selected as one of the three best articles in the Arts & Design track of SBGames XIII.