At its most basic level, game design is presenting a player with carefully selected stimuli, with the intention of encouraging a response behavior that the player enjoys.
Gameplay: Anything that a player does or thinks as a direct or indirect result of a game's mechanics.Gameplay includes any thinking about strategy or tactics. Any of the advice you'd read in a game guide or on a webpage tutorial are generally also gameplay.
A quick rule for identifying gameplay is that it's anything the player would proudly or angrily describe to a friend later:
- "So after distracting everybody with an explosion inside the base, I flanked the whole squad, knocked out their leader, and dragged him off before anybody else even noticed me."
- "Then, on the river card, I finally made my flush, which surprised the hell out of him because I knew he could tell I was bluffing."
- "And then that asshole camped my corpse for like 2 hours! I bet he regretted it though when I logged in on my main and killed him 12 times in a row."
Because basic Tag has so few mechanics, it can support a huge array of gameplay besides the "right" gameplay. Here are some examples I remember from my neighborhood as a kid:
- "John hadn't seen me get tagged, so I just walked up to him really calmly like I was on his team, high-fived him, and yelled 'You're it!' as I ran away. He was so mad."
- "Man, Billy's such a baby. After he was it he just sat there on the grass for 20 minutes until somebody finally came up and let them tag him."
- "Brad's big brothers are so mean. They grabbed him by the arms and held him down until Joe got over there and tagged him."
- "I got Janie's brother to yell out that she had a phone call, and I hid by her back porch so I could tag her when she tried to go inside."