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The MDA framework

Hadi introduces the MDA framework, a lens through which to view game design and game playing.
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This week, we’re going to talk to you about game mechanics. We’re going to talk about how game mechanics can come together, the interaction between different game mechanics, and also how they’re going to affect the player in some way– so what kind of emotions we want to evoke amongst players. Mechanics, in a way, are the building blocks of a game that you’re going to create. They are loops. They’re feedback mechanisms that you get the player to feel excited or to feel that they want to explore, they want to find out more. And we use mechanics to generate this. In a way, the combination of all of these together– we can think about it like a car.
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In a car, we have the wheel. Wheel could be one of the mechanics. You can steer it. That will move the car. We’ve got the gears that can change the speed of the car. We’ve got the brakes, got the windows. So each of these are different mechanics that we have. Now, we can have a manual window, so we can open it by hand, or we can have an automatic one that uses a button. Each of these will create different emotions or different feelings amongst your users. A framework that is useful for us to consider to help us think about all of these is called MDA framework.
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You can think about it as rules, system, and presentation, or what MDA stands for, which is mechanics, and D’s for dynamics, and A’s for aesthetics. Mechanics is all of those mechanics that we’re going to talk to you about, that you can include in your games. Dynamics is how all of these are going to work with each other. For example, again, think about the car, or think about some of the games you’ve played. How does each of those specific mechanics interact with the other mechanics? And finally, presentation or aesthetics– what kind of emotions do you want to evoke? What kind of emotions those dynamics create in your game– this is what we’re going to talk to you about this week.
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And I hope it’s going to help you to have a framework to better think about how all of these things can come together to create a better experience.
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