in Game Design, game design articles

In the last section we talked about which game mechanics should be used. Now I am going to talk about using those game mechanics in a way that will make a game fun.

Feedback Loop

According to Carlo Fabricatore, the main source of fun should come from feedback loops. A feedback loop is part of any game mechanic. It happens whenever the player has to make a decision, like jumping. First the player is presented with information. The player must then process that information. A decision is then made. Lastly the program then communicates the results of the player’s decision back to the user.  This can be seen in the below diagram. Understanding feedback loops have are important because they provide a deeper understanding of what is required for a game mechanic to be a game mechanic, and which game mechanics are more complex than other game mechanics. Feedback loops also give designers a basis of understanding when talking about game mechanics with each other. When creating a game mechanic it is important that all the necessary feedback is understood by the user.


Burnout occurs when a player is required to use a game mechanic after they have mastered it. (Cook, 2006)  An appropriate use for burnout is when a game mechanic is used with another game mechanic to create a super mechanic. In all other instances it is best to try to stay away from burnout.

Types of Game Mechanics

Core Mechanics
Core Mechanics are those vital to the player’s ability to control the game. It is usually in the form of a character, but can sometimes be an invisible player, like in Tetris.
Super Mechanics
These Mechanics are a combination of mechanics that extends the players abilities.
Modification Mechanics
These Mechanics modify the way other mechanics work. These are usually seen as power-ups in most games.
Extra Mechanics
These mechanics provide alternative ways to accomplish core mechanics.
In Mario, Mario is the main player. The core mechanics are the movements systems of Mario. Jumping higher when you hit an enemy is a super mechanic. Getting a mushroom to grow bigger is a modification mechanic. Using Yoshi to control the game is an extra mechanic.

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