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Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics

MDA is a โ€œformal approach to game design and game researchโ€ created in 2004 by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek. This was documented in an academic paper, and is freely available via the Northwestern University website.

The approach breaks down game design into three sections:

  1. Mechanics. Rules, systems. How the game actually works. These are what the game designers directly control. GMTKโ€™s video (see: References) uses the example of the max ammo in a gun as an example.
  2. Dynamics. How the player responds to those inputs. GMTK again uses the ammo capacity concept. More ammo gives you Doom Eternal or Diablo III. Less ammo gives you Resident Evil.
  3. Aesthetics. How the player feels.

Each of these sections has a cascading effect. The rules impact how the player acts, which impacts how the player feels.