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VPellen

So, What's Gameplay?

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Okay, here's a tickler for you. I was randomly sitting on my ass thinking about the best way to make my projects enjoyable, and I kind of got thinking about the term "Gameplay". The more I thought about it, the less it made sense to me. To wit, the following is a list of what I personally know about Gameplay. 1. It's some kind of quality. 2. It's good. 3. It's what makes good games great games. 4. I really really want to be able to put it in my games. 5. Good games have it. 6. Good designers make games with lots of it. 7. Everybody knows about it. 8. Everybody seems to believe, without dispute, that it's good. 9. You can't really have too much of it. The obvious pattern here is that I'm not exactly sure what it is. And it seems nobody else is 100% sure of what it is, either. We know what graphics are. We know what music is. We know what controls are. We know what replay value is. But for the development world's addiction to the term "Gameplay", we don't seem to have a very solid definition. I believe it was Sid Meier who defined it as "a series of interesting choices", but this leaves a little too much to the imagination. I want to hear opinions and discussions about what exactly Gameplay is. I don't expect to get a solid answer. I believe the very term itself is fundamentally flawed. But that doesn't mean that there isn't anything to be learned from it. So let's have a little brainstorming session. So. What's Gameplay?

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9. You can't really have too much of it.

I can't agree with this one entirely (and some of the others kinda overlap). You -CAN- make a bad game if you don't mix gameplay-"elements" with care. There are a lot of games, often indie games (those are more experimental anyways), that copy the main gameplay from other games and find a way to blend those. Nothing wrong with that, but when something like Snake is mixed with GTA, you'll clearly see where the flaws are of each gameplay-"element".
So you need to put every gameplay-element in its place, knowing what its flaws are (like controlability or just chaos) and NOT mix all sorts of gameplay-elements to form a final gameplay.
In a way, I agree, but you just need to carefully add more.

My definition of gameplay itself would be: a set of designed (randomness included) goals and a number of designed ways (or just one) to reach them.
Great games create a need to fulfill as many goals as possible and make each of those ways to complete them, fun and interesting.

Ah, weirdness. My definition would make graphics, sound and input part of the gameplay.

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For me gameplay means the: interaction between the player and the system (and other players, byt the can be considdered part of the system - as an external input). The system here is the program/computer.

This doesn't cover the physical controls, but does cover the logical controls, or the types of actions the players can make. These interactions are the core of gameplay.

This definition does not just stop at computer games, it also applies to board games and other types.

The system does not even need to be a physical object(s). It could even be just a mental construction (as in a set or rules that the players need to follow - like in a sport).

This definition stems from a definition of game theory that I heard a long time ago: A game is where 2 or more competitors compeat for set goals within the confines of a set or rules.

The goals are what the players need to achieve victory (the way they can achieve them must also be in the rules), but it is the "Set of Rules" that contain the gameplay.

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Umm, Gameplay is what makes the game playable, otherwise, your umm, not playing a game, your doing something else :P.

I'd say the 'meaning' of 'gameplay' really depends on the context.

Like, save points. They're part of the game, but if implemented wrongly it can damage gameplay. Gameplay meaning the enjoyability of progressing through the game, and not having to spend another 2 hours redoing a level cos you died right in front of the save point.

Or Story Line. A very dynamic story can inhance gameplay. Gameplay being the replay-ablity of playing the game over again.

Gameplay could include:
Controls, Health system, the genre itself, User interface, Graphics, time to complete, difficulty etc, etc.

All in all, my opinion of 'gameplay' atleast, is nothing exactly specific, nothing you can simply add on 3 days before the last dead line :P. Gameplay is everything that defines a 'game' from everything else. And the usage of the word Gameplay depends on the context of it's use.

---

Well, that's just the jist of what my brain farted out while reading your post. I can honestly say I never really thought too hard about the exact definition of gameplay :P.

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Gameplay is a type of interactivity. Interactivity is when the player makes decisions (either the stratigic kind or the twitch-reflex kind) and the game reacts in a non-obvious way which gives the player new material to make new decisions about. Thus the decision to take a step forward which results only in taking a step forward is not gameplay, but the decision to pull a lever when you don't know what it will do IS gameplay.

It's questionable whether gameplay actually has anything to do with gameness (goals, win/loseability) since software toys arguably have gameplay.

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Original post by sunandshadow
Gameplay is a type of interactivity. Interactivity is when the player makes decisions (either the stratigic kind or the twitch-reflex kind) and the game reacts in a non-obvious way which gives the player new material to make new decisions about. Thus the decision to take a step forward which results only in taking a step forward is not gameplay, but the decision to pull a lever when you don't know what it will do IS gameplay.


So Shoots and Ladders is not a game? I'd wager most people would say it is.

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I see gameplay as the way a game plays. It can be good, or bad. For me it mostly comes down to getting a feeling for it. After all, one person may love a certain game, and another one is neutral towards it, and so on. I think it's both used as an acronym for fun (good gameplay, bad gameplay), and a term to describe how a game rewards actions or provides innovative idea's or mechanics (interesting gameplay element). I guess that's still pretty intangible...

I do believe certain 'rules', like giving players meaningfull decisions, providing feedback on actions, and so on certainly can help making a game more fun to play, giving it a more solid 'gameplay', but just as there's no exact formula to success, there's no exact rule-set to fun.

In the end I believe one shouldn't think too much about the definition of gameplay, if that blocks creativity. It's good to get an understanding of things, but personally, I value actually working out a game more than debating theories. Well, I guess that depends on the person, too. :)

Oh, I also think, just because the term is so mysterious, that it's so often used. Mysterious things seem to be attractive, somehow... :)

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Original post by Dargor
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Original post by sunandshadow
Gameplay is a type of interactivity. Interactivity is when the player makes decisions (either the stratigic kind or the twitch-reflex kind) and the game reacts in a non-obvious way which gives the player new material to make new decisions about. Thus the decision to take a step forward which results only in taking a step forward is not gameplay, but the decision to pull a lever when you don't know what it will do IS gameplay.


So Shoots and Ladders is not a game? I'd wager most people would say it is.


I would argue that it isn't since you can't make a single decision, all you can do is role the dice.

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I would argue that it isn't since you can't make a single decision, all you can do is role the dice.


I knew it! I'm going to call Milton Bradley right now and demand the $10 my mother spent on me as a child!

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Original post by VPellen
I believe it was Sid Meier who defined it as "a series of interesting choices", but this leaves a little too much to the imagination.


That nails it, and seems to be part of your frustration with the term. You want that definition of gameplay to be something more concrete and certain...

But it can't be. Because gameplay is SUBJECTIVE!

Its intangable and unmeasureable...its a concept, an idea...nothing more.

To some players Tetris has more gameplay than Starcraft, to others Doom has more gameplay than Pac-Man....Its all SUBJECTIVE

The key word in Sid Meiers insightful definition is "interesting"

What game choices you find interesting; I may find bland. What I find interesting; you may find dull, boreing, repeditive, and uninspired....its all subjective.




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