July, 2015

A Comprehensive List of Game Mechanics for Serious Games

With the rapid changes in technology and the derivation of new game mechanics, designing a game is now easier than ever before. If you have an idea, then there are only a few fundamental game mechanics that you need to know. Whether you’re designing a first person shooter game, a logical game or a serious game for E-Learning purposes, familiarity with game mechanics is essential.


Several popular game mechanics are summarized below:

Number of Attempts
Solitaire, Nibbles and Minefield are examples of games using the mechanic Number of Attempts. The games continue until the player either completes the challenge or runs out of attempts, such as lives or turns. After the player achieves the goal or dies, the game begins all over again.

Player Movements
In games such as Dance Dance Revolution and Simon, the player must physically move to play the game. A series of steps have to be repeated to complete each stage and move on to the next one. This concept started with mats that plugged into game consoles. Newer technology like Wii, Kinect and Leap Motion allow players to use realistic movements like jumping and dodging in games.

The classic mechanic of blocks is employed by Puyo Puyo, Tetris and Sobokan. These game mechanics revolve around the arrangement of standard objects and shapes in a systematic order to complete the game.

Motion Detection
This game mechanics involves the use of the mouse in a certain way without making any errors. First person shooter games with keyboard controlling often rely on the use of mouse movements for aiming, shooting and reloading. This includes games such as Max Payne.

Scarcity of Resources
The introduction of resource constraints is one of the best ways to test the organizational skills of the player. Lunar Lander, zombie games and several military games limit the resources available to the players, such as weapons and ammunition, to enable players to utilize such resources effectively.

Hidden Images
Frequently used by logical and serious games, hidden images are a digital representation of the “Where’s Waldo” concept into gaming. Objects are hidden within a picture and the players use their observation power to trace simple objects in a complex picture. Examples of such games include the Big Fish Game Series.

Brawling and Racing
When designing action games, brawling and racing are two of the oldest and the most frequently used game mechanics. The player’s character comes with a wide variety of attack and speed combinations. Similarly, the time taken for each level can act as the resource constraint. Examples include the Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Need for Speed series.

Basic Construction
Introduced early by Theme Park games and expanded by Minecraft and the SimCity series, this game mechanics allows the player to construct a complete virtual world. From designing the environment to individual character design, these game mechanics are the most trending mechanics nowadays.

With several other game mechanics available, game designers and players now have plenty of options to choose from. The use of game mechanics in serious games has not only provided users with new leisure experience but has also enhanced the learning process. For organizations with the objective of promoting learning, knowledge of game mechanics and its application to learning is essential.