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A Pattern Language for Game Mechanics

Posted by Bob Warfield on August 26, 2010

This is so cool, I have to pass it along, even though I won’t add too much to it.

Techcrunch has just published a card deck of game mechanics purportedly obtained from SCVNGR.

I wrote recently about how a lot of the time sinks in our lives, like E-Mail, keep dragging us in because of their implicit game dynamics.  This card desk is like a pattern language for game dynamics.  Each card gives a new pattern.  Take the email example from my earlier blog post:

People get a sense of accomplishment by moving things from the Inbox to the Outbox that is not unlike playing solitaire over and over again. 

Here is a card from the SCVNGR deck that relates to that concept:

6. Blissful Productivity

Definition: The idea that playing in a game makes you happier working hard, than you would be relaxing. Essentially, we’re optimized as human beings by working hard, and doing meaningful and rewarding work.

Example: From Jane McGonical’s Ted Talk wherein she discusses how World of Warcraft players play on average 22 hours / week (a part time job), often after a full days work. They’re willing to work hard, perhaps harder than in real life, because of their blissful productivity in the game world.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now there are likely a great many patterns absent from the deck, but 47 different patterns is an excellent starting point.   Now take your web site or product, take the 47 cards in the deck, and try to think of examples you can use to make each pattern apply to your web site or product.  You now have a good start on adding some game mechanics!

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