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] and player's connection with it.[6] Video game gameplay is distinct from graphics[9][10] and audio elements.[9] In card games, the equivalent term is play.[a]


A 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 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 game mechanics specifically to avoid gameplay since the latter is too vague.[13] The word is sometimes misapplied to card games where, however, the usual term is "play" and refers to the way the cards are played out in accordance with the rules (as opposed to other aspects such as dealing or bidding).


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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.[14] 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.[citation needed] Various gameplay types are listed below.

Ambiguity in definition

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

For instance:


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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.[20] Playability evaluative methods target games to improve design while player experience evaluative methods target players to improve gaming."[19] 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.

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 the company of others. Playability is characterized by different attributes and properties to measure the video game player experience.[21]

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.[22] The playability's facets are:

Finally, a video game's "global" playability 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


  1. ^ For examples, see Phillips (1957)[11] or McLeod (2022).[12]


  1. ^ Lindley, Craig (June 24–26, 2004). "Narrative, Game Play, and Alternative Time Structures for Virtual Environments". In Göbel, Stefan (ed.). Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment: Proceedings of TIDSE 2004. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Vol. 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. ^ a b 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. ^ a b Lindley, Craig; Nacke, Lennart; Sennersten, Charlotte (November 3–5, 2008). Dissecting Play – Investigating the Cognitive and Emotional Motivations and Affects of Computer Gameplay. Wolverhampton, UK: University of Wolverhampton. ISBN 978-0-9549016-6-0. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 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 ((cite book)): |journal= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Tavinor, Grant (October 5, 2009). The Art of Videogames. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-8788-6. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2016. [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. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2016. 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. ^ a b Laramée, François Dominic (June 15, 2002). Game Design Perspectives. Charles River Media. ISBN 978-1-58450-090-2. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  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. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2016. .. 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. ^ a b Concise Oxford English Dictionary (11, Revised ed.). Oxford University Press, US. 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. ^ Phillips 1957, p. 406.
  12. ^ McLeod, John (9 April 2022). "Classified Index of Card Games".
  13. ^ Kierkegaard, Alex (2012). Videogame Culture: Volume 1.
  14. ^ Frasca, G (2003). "Simulation versus narrative: introduction to ludology". The Videogame Theory Reader: 221.
  15. ^ Rollings, Andrew; Morris, Dave (1999). Game Architecture and Design. Coriolis Group Books. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-57610-425-5.
  16. ^ Björk, Staffan; Holopainen, Jussi (2005). Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media. ISBN 978-1-58450-354-5.
  17. ^ Adams, Ernest; Rollings, Andrew (2003). Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on game design. New Riders Publishing. ISBN 978-1-59273-001-8.
  18. ^ Rollings, Andrew; Morris, Dave (2000). Game Architecture and Design. New Riders Games. ISBN 978-0-7357-1363-5.
  19. ^ a b 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. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 12, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2019. 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)
  20. ^ Usability First: Usability Glossary: playability Archived 2009-10-18 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ 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. S2CID 7073571.
  22. ^ Stanford Ontology Library Video game's Elements Ontology Archived 2010-06-03 at the Wayback Machine: A video game's elements ontology by González Sánchez, J. L. and Gutiérrez Vela, F. L. University of Granada, Spain.

Further reading on playability