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I'm trying to compile a list of game mechanics, by which I mean high-level/meta game mechanics like Cooperation, Resource Management, Chance and Time Manipulation rather than low level mechanics like running, jumping climbing ladders, etc

Does any one have any suggestions or can point me to good existing lists? My WIP list is already proving to be quite useful to me in the way I think about games.

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4 Answers 4

There's a book called Patterns in Game Design that is more or less exactly what you're looking for: http://www.amazon.com/Patterns-Game-Design-Development/dp/1584503548

I'll warn you of a few things. First, a lot of the mechanics in that book didn't have names, so the authors invented them, so sometimes the terminology can get confusing. Second, the list is large, and while there are links between related concepts, it's still a lot to take in. Third, about half of the mechanics are on an included CD-ROM rather than in the book itself, with lots of cross-referencing between the two, so looking up a chain of terms can sometimes take you back and forth from one to the other.

Admittedly, these are all issues you'd probably run into on your own once your list got to be a certain size, anyway.

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I agree, this is a book well worth checking out. It's very neat, though I didn't find it entirely practical, but it feels like the closest thing to making game design a science. –  Ricket Aug 27 '10 at 11:50

I can't for the life of me find it at this moment (don't help that my computer fails to open pdf's at the moment), but I know there's a wiki out there what has a significant list of them. The keyword you're looking for is "Taxonomy".
Googling +taxonomy +videogames should definitely give you some leads.
Sorry for not being of more help, lost all my bookmarks.

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Place "video games" within quotation marks, and some good links show up, such as this PDF which seems to be well-written: staffwww.dcs.shef.ac.uk/people/D.Romano/AISB09/… –  Randolf Richardson Sep 7 '11 at 17:30

I really love this visual "guide" to game mechanics from Game Seeds

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