Last updated
WPVG icon 2016.svg
Part of a series on:
Video games

Gameplay is the specific way in which players interact with a game, [1] [2] and in particular with video games. [3] [4] Gameplay is the pattern defined through the game rules, [2] [5] connection between player and the game, [6] challenges [7] and overcoming them, [8] plot [9] and player's connection with it. [6] Video game gameplay is distinct from graphics [9] [10] and audio elements. [9]

A player of a game is a participant therein. The term 'player' is used with this same meaning both in game theory and in ordinary recreational games.

Game entertainment, activity; structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment

A game is a structured form of play, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work or art.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.



The gameplay of an early version of the puzzle game Edge Edge (video game) edge time, animated.gif
The gameplay of an early version of the puzzle game Edge

Arising alongside video game development in the 1980s, the term gameplay was used solely within the context of video games, though now its popularity has begun to see use in the description of other, more traditional, game forms. Generally, gameplay is considered to be the overall experience of playing a video game excluding factors like graphics and sound. Game mechanics, on the other hand, is the sets of rules in a game that are intended to produce an enjoyable gaming experience. Academic discussions tend to favor terms like game mechanics specifically to avoid gameplay since the latter term is too vague. [11]

Game mechanics are methods invoked by agents designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing gameplay. All games use mechanics; however, theories and styles differ as to their ultimate importance to the game. In general, the process and study of game design, or ludology, are efforts to come up with game mechanics that allow for people playing a game to have an engaging, but not necessarily fun, experience.


There are three components to gameplay: "Manipulation rules", defining what the player can do in the game, "Goal Rules", defining the goal of the game, and "Metarules", defining how a game can be tuned or modified. [12] In video games gameplay can be divided into several types. For example, cooperative gameplay involves two or more players playing on a team. Another example is "twitch" gameplay which is based around testing a player's reaction times and precision, maybe in rhythm games or first-person shooters. Various gameplay types are listed below.

Cooperative gameplay is a feature in video games that allows players to work together as teammates, usually against one or more AI opponents. It is distinct from other multiplayer modes, such as competitive multiplayer modes like player versus player or deathmatch. Playing simultaneously allows players to assist one another in many ways: passing weapons or items, healing, providing covering fire in a firefight, and performing cooperative maneuvers such as boosting a teammate up and over obstacles.

Emergent gameplay refers to complex situations in video games, board games, or table top role-playing games that emerge from the interaction of relatively simple game mechanics.

Nonlinear gameplay

A video game with nonlinear gameplay presents players with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences. Each player may take on only some of the challenges possible, and the same challenges may be played in a different order. Conversely, a video game with linear gameplay will confront a player with a fixed sequence of challenges: every player faces every challenge and has to overcome them in the same order.

Ambiguity in definition

The term gameplay can be quite ambiguous to define, thus it has been differently defined by different authors.

For instance:

Sid Meier Canadian-American game programmer and designer

Sidney K. Meier is a Canadian-American programmer, designer, and producer of several strategy video games and simulation video games, including the Civilization series. Meier co-founded MicroProse in 1982 with Bill Stealey and is the Director of Creative Development of Firaxis Games, which he co-founded with Jeff Briggs and Brian Reynolds in 1996. For his contributions to the video game industry, Meier was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.


Playability is the ease by which the game can be played or the quantity or duration that a game can be played and is a common measure of the quality of gameplay. [18] Playability evaluative methods target games to improve design while player experience evaluative methods target players to improve gaming." [17] This is not to be confused with the ability to control (or play) characters in multi-character games such as role playing games or fighting games, or factions in real-time strategy games.

A fighting game is a video game genre based around interpersonal combat between a limited amount of characters in which they fight until they defeat their opponents or the timer expires. The fight matches typically consist of several rounds and take place in an arena, while each character has differing abilities but each is relatively viable to choose. Players must master techniques such as blocking, counter-attacking, and chaining attacks together into "combos". Starting in the early 1990s, most fighting games allowed the player to execute special attacks by performing specific input combinations. The fighting game genre is related to but distinct from beat 'em ups, which involve large numbers of enemies against the human player.

Real-time strategy (RTS) is a subgenre of strategy video games where the game does not progress incrementally in turns. This is distinguished from turn-based strategy (TBS), in which all players take turns when playing.

Playability is defined as: a set of properties that describe the Player Experience using a specific game system whose main objective is to provide enjoyment and entertainment, by being credible and satisfying, when the player plays alone or in company. Playability is characterized by different attributes and properties to measure the video game player experience. [19]

Playability's facets

The playability analysis is a very complex process due to the different point of view to analyze the different part of video game architecture. Each facet allows us to identify the different playability's attributes and properties affected by the different elements of video game architecture. [20] The playability's facets are:

Finally, the "global" playability of a video game will be deduced through each attribute value in the different playability's facets. It is crucial to improve the playability in the different facets to guarantee the best player experience when the player plays the video game.

See also

Related Research Articles

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

Role-playing game game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting

A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making of character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

Video game design is the process of designing the content and rules of a video game in the pre-production stage and designing the gameplay, environment, storyline, and characters in the production stage. The designer of a game is very much like the director of a film; the designer is the visionary of the game and controls the artistic and technical elements of the game in fulfillment of their vision. Video game design requires artistic and technical competence as well as writing skills. As the industry has aged and embraced alternative production methodologies such as agile, the role of a principal game designer has begun to separate - some studios emphasising the auteur model while others emphasising a more team oriented model. Within the video game industry, video game design is usually just referred to as "game design", which is a more general term elsewhere.

Music video game music-themed video game genre

A music video game, also commonly known as a music game, is a video game where the gameplay is meaningfully and often almost entirely oriented around the player's interactions with a musical score or individual songs. Music video games may take a variety of forms and are often grouped with puzzle games due to their common use of "rhythmically generated puzzles".

Interactive storytelling is a form of digital entertainment in which the storyline is not predetermined. The author creates the setting, characters, and situation which the narrative must address, but the user experiences a unique story based on their interactions with the story world. The architecture of an interactive storytelling program includes a drama manager, user model, and agent model to control, respectively, aspects of narrative production, player uniqueness, and character knowledge and behavior. Together, these systems generate characters that act "human," alter the world in real-time reactions to the player, and ensure that new narrative events unfold comprehensibly.

A video game genre is a classification assigned to a video game based on its gameplay interaction rather than visual or narrative differences. A video game genre is defined by a set of gameplay challenges and are classified independently of their setting or game-world content, unlike other works of fiction such as films or books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless of where or when it takes place.

Action-adventure is a video game genre that combine core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to video games:

A pervasive game is a video game where the gaming experience is extended out in the real world, or where the fictive world in which the game takes place blends with the physical world. The "It's Alive" mobile games company described pervasive games as "games that surround you", while Montola, Stenros and Waern's book, Pervasive Games defines them as having "one or more salient features that expand the contractual magic circle of play spatially, temporally, or socially." The concept of a "magic circle" draws from the work of Johan Huizinga, who describes the boundaries of play.

Vehicle simulation games are a genre of video games which attempt to provide the player with a realistic interpretation of operating various kinds of vehicles. This includes automobiles, aircraft, watercraft, spacecraft, military vehicles, and a variety of other vehicles. The main challenge is to master driving and steering the vehicle from the perspective of the pilot or driver, with most games adding another challenge such as racing or fighting rival vehicles. Games are often divided based on realism, with some games including more realistic physics and challenges such as fuel management.

Dialogue tree

A dialogue tree, or conversation tree, is a gameplay mechanic that is used throughout many adventure games and role-playing video games. When interacting with a non-player character, the player is given a choice of what to say and makes subsequent choices until the conversation ends. Certain video game genres, such as visual novels and dating sims, revolve almost entirely around these character interactions and branching dialogues.

Dynamic game difficulty balancing (DGDB), also known as dynamic difficulty adjustment (DDA) or dynamic game balancing (DGB), is the process of automatically changing parameters, scenarios, and behaviors in a video game in real-time, based on the player's ability, in order to avoid making the player bored or frustrated. However, letting AI players break the rules to which players are bound can cause the AI to cheat—for example, AI players might be given unlimited speed in racing games to stay near the human player. The goal of dynamic difficulty balancing is to keep the user interested from the beginning to the end, providing a good level of challenge.

User experience (UX) evaluation or user experience assessment (UXA) refers to a collection of methods, skills and tools utilized to uncover how a person perceives a system before, during and after interacting with it. It is non-trivial to assess user experience since user experience is subjective, context-dependent and dynamic over time. For a UXA study to be successful, the researcher has to select the right dimensions, constructs, and methods and target the research for the specific area of interest such as game, transportation, mobile, etc.

This is a glossary of video game terms which lists the general terms as commonly used in Wikipedia articles related to video games and its industry.

Game design is the art of applying design and aesthetics to create a game for entertainment or for educational, exercise, or experimental purposes. Increasingly, elements and principles of game design are also applied to other interactions, particularly virtual ones.


A cutscene or event scene is a sequence in a video game that is not interactive, breaking up the gameplay. Such scenes could be used to show conversations between characters, set the mood, reward the player, introduce new gameplay elements, show the effects of a player's actions, create emotional connections, improve pacing or foreshadow future events.


  1. Lindley, Craig (June 24–26, 2004). "Narrative, Game Play, and Alternative Time Structures for Virtual Environments". In Göbel, Stefan. Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment: Proceedings of TIDSE 2004. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 3105. Darmstadt, Germany: Springer. pp. 183–194. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-27797-2_25. ISBN   978-3-540-22283-5. .. gameplay gestalt, understood as a pattern of interaction with the game system." ("A gestalt may be understood as a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts."); ".. In general, it [game play gestalt] is a particular way of thinking about the game state from the perspective of a player, together with a pattern of repetitive perceptual, cognitive, and motor operations. A particular gameplay gestalt could be unique to a person, a game, or even a playing occasion. Unique game play gestalts can also be identified across games, game genres, and players.
  2. 1 2 Salen, Katie; Zimmerman, Eric (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. 3. ISBN   978-0-262-24045-1. Game play is the formalized interaction that occurs when players follow the rules of a game and experience its system through play.
  3. 1 2 Lindley, Craig; Nacke, Lennart; Sennersten, Charlotte (November 3–5, 2008). Dissecting Play – Investigating the Cognitive and Emotional Motivations and Affects of Computer Gameplay. Proceedings of CGAMES 08. Wolverhampton, UK: University of Wolverhampton. ISBN   978-0-9549016-6-0. The experience of gameplay is one of interacting with a game design in the performance of cognitive tasks, with a variety of emotions arising from or associated with different elements of motivation, task performance and completion
  4. Tavinor, Grant (October 5, 2009). The Art of Videogames. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN   978-1-4051-8788-6. [T]he interactive involvement typically associated with videogames, that is, the activities that occur when one plays a videogame.
  5. Egenfeldt-Nielson, Simon; Smith, Jonas Heide; Tosca, Susana Pajares (February 19, 2008). Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction. Routledge. ISBN   978-0-415-97721-0. In line with the common use of the term, we will define gameplay as: the game dynamics emerging from the interplay between rules and game geography.
  6. 1 2 Laramée, François Dominic (June 15, 2002). Game Design Perspectives. Charles River Media. ISBN   978-1-58450-090-2.
  7. Adams, Ernest; Rollings, Andrew (2003). Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on game design. New Riders Publishing. ISBN   978-1-59273-001-8. One or more casually linked series of challenges in a simulated environment"; "Gameplay is the result of a large number of contributing elements. .. gameplay is not a singular entity. It is a combination of many elements, a synergy that emerges from the inclusion of certain factors. .. The gameplay emerges from the interaction among these elements, ..
  8. Adams, Ernest (September 23, 2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall. ISBN   978-0-13-168747-9. .. defined gameplay as consisting of the challenges and actions that a game offers: challenges for the player to overcome and actions that let her overcome them. .. [T]he essence of gameplay remains the relationship between the challenges and the actions available to surmount them.
  9. 1 2 3 Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11, Revised ed.). Oxford University Press, USA. August 11, 2008. ISBN   978-0-19-954841-5. gameplay (in a computer game) the plot and the way the game is played, as distinct from the graphics and sound effects
  10. Oxland, Kevin (2004). Gameplay and design. Addison Wesley. ISBN   978-0-321-20467-7. .. gameplay is the components that make up a rewarding, absorbing, challenging experience that compels player to return for more .. [Gameplay] does not come from a great visual character, not does it come from state-of-art technology and beautifully rendered art.
  11. Kierkegaard, Alex (2012). Videogame Culture: Volume 1.
  12. Frasca, G (2003). "Simulation versus narrative: introduction to ludology". The Videogame Theory Reader: 221.
  13. Rollings, Andrew; Morris, Dave (1999). Game Architecture and Design. Coriolis Group Books. p. 38. ISBN   978-1-57610-425-5.
  14. Björk, Staffan; Holopainen, Jussi (2005). Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN   978-1-58450-354-5.
  15. Adams, Ernest; Rollings, Andrew (2003). Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on game design. New Riders Publishing. ISBN   978-1-59273-001-8.
  16. Rollings, Andrew; Morris, Dave (2000). Game Architecture and Design. New Riders Games. ISBN   978-0-7357-1363-5.
  17. 1 2 Nacke, Lennart E.; Drachen, Anders; Kuikkaniemi, Kai; Niesenhaus, Joerg; Korhonen, Hannu; van den Hoogen, Wouter; Poels, Karolien; IJsselsteijn, Wijnand; et al. (September 1, 2009). "Playability and Player Experience Research" (PDF). Proceedings of DiGRA 2009: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory. playability is the evaluative process directed toward games, whereas player experience is directed toward players. More precisely, playability methods evaluate games to improve design, whereas player experience methods evaluate players to improve gaming.(p.1)
  18. Usability First: Usability Glossary: playability Archived 2009-10-18 at the Wayback Machine
  19. González Sánchez, J. L.; Gutiérrez Vela, F.L.; Montero Simarro, F.; Padilla-Zea, N. (31 Aug 2012). "Playability: analysing user experience in video games". Behaviour & Information Technology. 31 (10): 1033–1054. doi:10.1080/0144929X.2012.710648.
  20. Stanford Ontology Library Video game's Elements Ontology: A video game's elements ontology by González Sánchez, J. L. and Gutiérrez Vela, F. L. University of Granada, Spain.

Further reading on playability