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Pyramid of Game Elements

pyramid of elements consists of dynamics, mechanics, and components In video lecture 4.2, Prof. Werbach introduces the Pyramid of Game Elements (See screenshot). Every game is constructed of dynamics, mechanics, and components that contribute to the overall experience. It is not essential that every game utilize all of the available options for each element, but the combination creates the richness of the experience.

Dynamics (the big-picture aspects of a game, “grammar”):

  • Constraints
  • Emotions
  • Narrative
  • Progression
  • Relationships

Mechanics (Processes that drive action forward, “verbs”):

  • Challenges
  • Chance
  • Competition
  • Cooperation
  • Feedback
  • Resource Acquisition
  • Rewards
  • Transactions
  • Turns
  • Win states

Components (Specific instantiations of mechanics and dynamics “nouns”):

  • Achievements
  • Avatars
  • Badges
  • Boss Fights
  • Collections
  • Combat
  • Content Unlocking
  • Gifting
  • Leaderboards
  • Levels
  • Points
  • Quests
  • Social Graph
  • Teams
  • Virtual Goods

As you can see, there are far more components than dynamics (hence the pyramid!) Also, the items at the lower level of the pyramid implement or illustrate one of the higher-level concepts.

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