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Putting the pieces together: The MDA Framework


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Presented at the GDC 2009 Education Summit. It details the game of Bartok and how I use it to illustrate the Mechanics/Dynamics/Aesthetics framework for game design.

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Putting the pieces together: The MDA Framework

  1. 1. Putting The Pieces Together The MDA Framework GDC 2009
  2. 2. MDA - A vocabulary for discussing play <ul><li>Addressing the gap between ideas and game mechanics. </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded in a formal approach </li></ul><ul><li>LeBlanc et al. since 2001 </li></ul>
  3. 3. Teaching exercise: Bartok <ul><li>Play & Critique </li></ul><ul><li>Design, Play – and then Critique </li></ul>
  4. 4. Rules of Bartok <ul><li>Deal 5 cards </li></ul><ul><li>Turn over top card of deck </li></ul><ul><li>First person from the dealer goes </li></ul><ul><li>Play a card of the same suit or number – or draw a card. </li></ul><ul><li>Jokers are wild. </li></ul><ul><li>Play until someone has no more cards </li></ul>
  5. 5. Now: Change Rules <ul><li>Cumulative Draw 2 </li></ul><ul><li>See Last Card in Any Hand </li></ul><ul><li>Out of turn play </li></ul><ul><li>Play for 10 minutes </li></ul>
  6. 6. What changed? <ul><li>How was the experience of Bartok++ different from Bartok Original </li></ul><ul><li>How did the rule change bring about this change? </li></ul>
  7. 7. How do we get from… <ul><li>Cards </li></ul><ul><li>Rules </li></ul>
  8. 8. To… <ul><li>Intrigue </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Drama </li></ul><ul><li>Cards </li></ul><ul><li>Chips </li></ul><ul><li>Rules </li></ul>
  9. 9. What’s missing? “ Rules” “ Fun”
  10. 10. The causal link… This is what sets games apart… “ Rules” “ Fun” “ Play”
  11. 11. Games As Software “ Rules” “ Fun” “ Play”
  12. 12. Games As Software “ Rules” “ Fun” “ Play” Code Requirements Process
  13. 13. A Design Vocabulary “ Fun” “ Play” Requirements Process Mechanics
  14. 14. A Design Vocabulary “ Fun” Requirements Mechanics Dynamics
  15. 15. A Design Vocabulary Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics
  16. 16. The MDA Framework Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics
  17. 17. Definitions <ul><li>Mechanics : The rules and concepts that formally specify the game-as-system. </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamics : The run-time behavior of the game-as-system + players. </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetics : The emotional responses evoked by the game dynamics. </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Designer/Player Relationship   Designer Player Mechanics Aesthetics Dynamics
  19. 19. The Player’s Perspective  Player Mechanics Aesthetics Dynamics
  20. 20. The Designer’s Perspective  Designer Mechanics Aesthetics Dynamics
  21. 21. MDA <ul><li>A taxonomy of design knowledge: </li></ul><ul><li>Mechanics </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetics </li></ul><ul><li>The interactions between them </li></ul>
  22. 22. Anticipation <ul><li>Mechanic: Turn taking with expectation about future moves </li></ul><ul><li>Dynamic: Desire for a particular outcome. Slow increase in expectation. </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetic: Hope, Tension, Downfall? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Bartok +++ <ul><li>Amplify the dynamic you’ve discovered. </li></ul><ul><li>Add rules one at a time. </li></ul><ul><li>Play each iteration. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Fail Fast! Test Analyze Revise
  25. 25. Fail Fast! Follow the Fun! Test Analyze Revise
  26. 26. Play for 30 Minutes!
  27. 27. Discussion: MDA at Work <ul><li>What was difficult? </li></ul><ul><li>What was easier than expected? </li></ul>
  28. 28. Aesthetics: Bartok Fiction <ul><li>Does Bartok even have a fiction? </li></ul><ul><li>Could it? </li></ul>
  29. 29. Team Bartok <ul><li>Every table – Play Bartok with the first 3 rules </li></ul><ul><li>First table out wins </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cumulative Draw Two </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Out of Turn Play </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Last Card Revealed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No Table Talk </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Discussion <ul><li>How did changing the win condition change the game? </li></ul><ul><li>Use MDA to discuss it! </li></ul>
  31. 31. Any Final Observations?
  32. 32. Resources <ul><li>MDA Paper: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Bartok: Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Malcolm: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Robin: </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>