In some local vacancies I read something like "a genre = match3", or like "a game mechanics = adventure". I thought, a game mechanics is match3, or any sequences of operations that do something to solve something. A verb. For example, to connect three candies of one color in a line.

And genre is just a structure about what elements should be in a story. Like in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". For example, an adventurer + an artifact + a map (or any key) to find it + competitor (or a let) = adventure.

Am I wrong?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great question. There is a lot of confusion about the finer points of games, specifically what constitutes a game, mechanics, genre and gameplay. I've posted a formal answer, but the short answer is that mechanics are algorithmic, where genre is stylistic. \$\endgroup\$ – DukeZhou Sep 6 '17 at 19:23

Genres are a way to group games together that share similiar elements, wether they are game mechanics or specific story elements or just perspective or setting.

In some genres games have to have specific mechanics. An FPS has to be first person and has to have a shooting mechanic, hence the name.

Mechanics are basically actions that the player can take and their consequences.
So if you match 3 and they disappear, that's a game mechanic, if you jump on an enemies head and the enemy takes damage, that's a game mechanic.

So to answer your question, genre can describe many things, it doesn't have to be the setting (see FPS). So it doesn't directly relate to game mechanics. A genre can imply certain game mechanics. But other than that there isn't really a connection.

Hope that explains it well enough.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To add: sometime a mechanic is so elementary to a genre it becomes synonymous to a genre. The match-3 genre is a subgenre in the puzzle genre. It has grown from 'Bejeweled' (match-3 mechanics only) to spawn new games containing new mechanics (powerups, unbreakble tiles). \$\endgroup\$ – Felsir Jan 23 '16 at 18:45
  • Games are sets of mechanics with unique mathematical properties

This holds for all games, regardless of medium of medium or genre (i.e. board & card games, computer games, puzzle games, sports.) The field of Combinatorial Game Theory is devoted to the mathematical analysis of games toward the goal of solving a given game. The scope of CGT is ever expanding per the capabilities of mathematics and computation to solve problems of increasing complexity.

Games may also include elements (tokens, players, objects, etc.) and these elements are governed by the mechanics.

  • Mechanics, simply put, are the specific rules of a given game

By contrast, genre refers to categories of gameplay, which is often conflated with mechanics. But "gameplay" and genre are terms used to connote and categorize games with similar properties and player experience.

Keeping to mathematical definition of structure, m,n,k is a class of games based on connecting k tokens on an m*n game board. All m,n,k-games share this structure and a common set of fundamental mechanics (place tokens, victory condition based on k in a row), and include Tic-tac-toe, Gomoku and Connect Four. The wider genre is "connection games", which includes Hex and TwixT.

Gameplay is a little fuzzier, but all of the connection games listed here can be called "combinatorial" which sometimes refers to a special class of "non-chance, perfect information, sequential, partisan" games.

The concepts of mechanics, gameplay and genre can extended to any type of game, with distinction being that the latter two tend to reflect market-based considerations, specifically relating to players the type of game experience.

  • Genre and "gameplay" are distinct from game mechanics in that they are stylistic
  • Game mechanics are purely logical/mathematical, which is to say algorithmic
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    \$\begingroup\$ Excellent answer. Much more exacting than the other. Good job. \$\endgroup\$ – Attackfarm Sep 6 '17 at 21:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Attackfarm Thanks. Part of my life mission is to convey the clarity mathematicians have brought to this field to the general public! (Still a student myself, of course, as study is a lifelong endeavor.) \$\endgroup\$ – DukeZhou Sep 6 '17 at 21:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ You may be interested to know the MDA framework, widely known if not used among game designers, also says pretty much the same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – congusbongus Sep 7 '17 at 5:36

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