This article was originally published to GameDev.net back in 2000. It was revised by the original author in 2008 and published in the book Design and Content Creation: A GameDev.net Collection, which is one of 4 books collecting both popular GameDev.net articles and new original content in print format.
The design of video games has rarely been a subject of formal study. All too often today games are designed simply by looking at whatever is popular at the moment and copying it. The recent interest in classic video games has a basis in something more than mere nostalgia. There is a feeling that something has been lost in game design, even while graphics and sound are reaching new heights. This document is an attempt to explore certain concepts of videogame design. It is not a formula for designing hit video games. I firmly believe designing games by formula leads to stagnation. However, I just as firmly believe that a good videogame must be built on a solid foundation. Thus I have divided the subject into several elements and written an essay on each one. I've gathered them together here for the benefit of anyone interested in game design.0