There are three main components of a game that influence and affect each other. The first two mechanics and aesthetics seem like separate components, but when both interact, dynamics is the result.
Mechanics – The rules of a game and how the game works.
a. Example: In Monopoly, you roll the dice and then move your game piece that number of spaces.
b. Example: In Guess Who, the rules are that you ask a question, and then eliminate certain tiles based on the answer the other player gives. The win condition is guessing the right tile.
Rolling the dice to move and collecting and using money are both mechanics in Monopoly.
Aesthetics – How the game feels. This can be related to the art, the theme, and the emotions that arise from the game.
a. Example: In Monopoly, the theme is real estate and it tends to evoke competitive feelings.
b. Example: Guess Who has cartoon people, or if redesigned, Pokemon. The overall feeling is less competitive than Monopoly despite the mechanics still being competitive, and there’s more of a feeling of curiosity, challenge, and creativity in your question asking.
The artwork depicting streets and railroads are aesthetics, along with the shape and feel of the game pieces.
Dynamics – The interplay between the mechanics and aesthetics in gameplay.
a. Example: In Monopoly, you roll the dice and move your piece to Boardwalk. You now have to make a decision whether or not you are going to purchase it. The name Boardwalk is an aesthetic, and the option to purchase it is a rule, but the decision you make is gameplay. The gameplay is the Dynamics.
b. Example: In Guess Who, the questions you ask are the dynamics. You look at the pictures on the tiles (aesthetics) and you have to ask a question (mechanics) but the art of asking questions that are general enough to eliminate a large number of tiles but specific enough to avoid eliminating tiles that should still be in play is the gameplay. Those are the dynamics.
How does the combination of the rules and real estate theme affect how you choose to play Monopoly?
Questions to ask yourself: How do the rules of the game affect how the gameplay occurs? How do the rules and the gameplay affect how the game feels? How could you change the rules to affect how the game plays out or feels?