Game Mechanics versus Game Dynamics

I’m presenting some new work next week, a session entitled ‘Beyond Badges: Game Dynamics in Learning‘. As i pull that session together, i’m refining some of my earlier work and finding the right framework to present it in. I’ve settled on contrasting Game Mechanics (stuff that we do within games), with Game Dynamics (underlying concepts and social frameworks that power the game).

Game Dynamics and Game Mechanics

For example: game mechanics may be ‘scoring‘ things, ‘moving‘ things, ‘shooting‘ things and ‘building‘ things. By contrast, game dynamics may be ‘sense of loss‘, ‘resource marshalling‘, ‘facing adversity‘, ‘identifying risk‘. It’s an inexact differentiation, i realise, but my hypothesis is this: much gamification in organisational learning tends towards mechanics, which make it look great, but possibly at the cost of the underlying dynamics, which are what really matter.

Great games will be designed to mirror and reflect facets of the real world, providing rehearsal spaces to prototype and explore new behaviours. That’s the thrust of what i’m rehearsing for next week as i #WorkOutLoud today.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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8 Responses to Game Mechanics versus Game Dynamics

  1. Julian, this is an important and much needed distinction. We’ve had gamification pushed up our noses (with the hope that it thereby finds an easy linear path to our brains) by people essentially concerned by marketing, manipulation and easy fixes, like sugar-coated pills. The logic of all real games is non-linear, the and the benefits indirect and long lasting, as any young child knows.

    Looking forward to where you take this. There is also a dimension of what I would call social memory attached to games, the stuff of which all human culture is built. All these things need exploring.

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