The MDA Framework

The MDA Framework



  • Mechanics: Player actions articulated with larger game / the rules and concepts that formally specify the game-as-system.
  • Dynamics: The run-time behavior of the game-as-system + players.
  • Aesthetics: The emotional responses evoked by the game dynamics.


  • MDA has actually been written about with two ideas of mechanics, but both work for the concept. (I prefer the second one, which is the rules and concepts that formally specify the game-as-system)
  • “Core mechanics” are almost always what players do over and over.

Designer/Player Relationship


Case Study: Congo Jones

Game mechanics: classic platforming, like Pitfall!

Game’s opening message:

  1. Stop the logging. No preserving aesthetic
  2. Help local people take action. No collaboration aesthetic

A key challenge for my games

Putting together engaging play and an appropriate world/theme

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