MDA framework – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia #gamedesign

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Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics from the perspectives of designer (blue) and player (green).

In game design the Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics (MDA) framework is tool used to analyze games. It formalizes the consumption of games by breaking them down into three components – Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics. Despite these three words being used informally for many years to describe various aspects of games, the MDA framework borrows them and provides concise definitions.

  • Mechanics are the base components of the game – its rules, every basic action the player can take in the game, the algorithms and data structures in the game engine etc.
  • Dynamics are the run-time behavior of the mechanics acting on player input and “cooperating” with other mechanics.
  • Aesthetics are the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player – joy, frustration, fantasy, fellowship.

From the perspective of the designer – the mechanics generate dynamics which generate aesthetics. This relationship poses a challenge for the game designer as he is only able to influence the mechanics and only through them can he produce meaningful dynamics and aesthetics for the player. The perspective of the player is the other way around. He experiences the game through the aesthetics, which the game dynamics, which emerged from the mechanics, provide.

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