I've come across the term "formalism" in a number of articles and discussions on the topic of video games. What does it mean?

PS: if I'm posting in the wrong place, could someone please link me a forum/site where I can ask academic game theories questions?


Lacking any specific context, it means what the word itself means:

the practice or the doctrine of strict adherence to prescribed or external forms (as in religion or art)

(among other similar definitions)

Within the context of the games industry, and game design or game theory in particular, "formalism" doesn't hold a specialized meaning. The concepts of philosophical, artistic and/or mathematical formalism exist and may be appropriate for a particular conversation about game design or theory, since it's a domain that has a mix of all three of those things.

But there's nothing really unique about the term as it applies to game development, in general (or at least, not in a fashion that is an established or ad hoc standard).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hey Josh, thank you. Are game mechanics considered to be within the scope of formal analysis of games, or does formal analysis address only the representation aspect of games? \$\endgroup\$ – Komm Jan 6 '16 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ (And man, I've so glad I can ask game study questions here.) \$\endgroup\$ – Komm Jan 6 '16 at 17:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe? I have no idea, that all sounds very academic and philosophical to me. I just make games. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Jan 6 '16 at 17:50

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