An Index of Game Design Concepts

This page should, in time, provide a handy index of different game design concepts from all mediums (books, blog posts, Youtube videos, etc.).

I think this could become a valuable resource, because I found myself baffled about where the concept of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary game loop comes from this week… I still haven’t found the source, so it’s been blocking what would otherwise have been a quick 2 hours to write blog post. On top of that it looks like I still have a whole bunch of unread game design books, so I’ll spend some time in 2022 brushing up on my theory and update this as I read. It should also be very useful concepts mentioned in videos or talks, which are very hard to search for…

You can simply use your browser’s search function to find stuff in here… for the sake of trying to keep this maintainable I put the link to each video, book or blog post at the bottom of the page, once, in the Resources section. The links in the Concepts section are anchor links to the Resources.

Concepts

Arc

An arc is a broken loop that the player exits immediately. Typically used in more linear mediums like books, movies and television. Also see: Loop.

Beat Chart

A document that shows what game mechanics are introduced per level that can be used to help find problems in a design, like introducing too many new mechanics in one level.

Death

Deciding how the death player or non-player characters impact gameplay is an important design decision in most games.

Finishing

Finishing game development projects can be very difficult! Many people have written or spoken about it…

Fun

A nebulous concept that roughly equates to the enjoyability or quality of game.

Game Design Document

A document that acts as a recipe for creating a game. It’s purpose is as a means to communicate the design to all collaborators on the project.

  • Pager, One
  • Pager, Ten
  • Book: Level Up! - Level 4
    • Lots of detailed advice here about how to potentially structure your GDD’s.
    • Particularly the outline for a ten-pager would make a valuable template for small-team design documents.

Gameplay

The interactive part of a game, or the game loop. As opposed to story which is usually a non-interactive, linear arc.

Game (definition)

What is a game? Many people smarter than me have come up with many different answers…

Genre

A game genre is label used to describe a category of games that use similar mechanics. For example: First Person Shooter, Platformer or Turn-based Strategy.

Idea

An undeveloped concept for a new game or new game mechanic.

Job Role

A job within the games industry that has some associated skills and responsibilities.

Kids Games

Making games for children usually requires some additional considerations in the design.

Licensed Games

Making games for licensed properties usually requires some additional considerations in the design.

Loop

An experiential loop in which a player takes their starting mental model, applies an action, to a game system and receives feedback, which updates their mental model. The loop usually repeats. Also see Arc.

Maturity Rating

A rating showing how suitable a game is for audiences of various age groups to help parents find age-appropriate games for their children. For example: ESRB (USA), PEGI (Europe), BBFC (UK), USK (Germany).

Pager, One

A One Pager is a very short single page summary of a game idea.

Pager, Ten

A short first iteration on a game design document. It fleshes out the very succinct summary in a One Pager, but doesn’t yet contain every detail like a Game Design Document.

Story

An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. Some games need a story, some don’t.

Title

The name of a game.

Resources

Author

Matt Van Der Westhuizen

Back-end service developer at Ubisoft Blue Byte by day - wannabe game designer & developer by night.