Advergames: Games build to promote products or services. Commonly used to increase activity or brand engagement on consumer-facing websites.(1)

Asynchronous gameplay: Players don’t have to be online at the same time.

Augmented Reality Games: Are designed to make it easier to generate the four intrinsic rewards we crave (more satisfying work, better hope for success, stronger social connectivity, and more meaning) whenever we can’t or don’t want to be in a virtual environment. ARGs are games we play to get more out of our real life, as opposed to games we play to escape it.(2)

Autotelic: The scientific term using a self-motivated, self-rewarding activity.(2)

Avatar: A virtual representation of a player’s character in a game. Common in role-playing games in which the player might take on the role of a magical creature or a medieval warrior.(1)

Badge: A visual token of an achievement. Usually designed to look like the real-world analogs such as Boy Scout badges or the Good Housekeeping Seal.(1)

Boss fight: A difficult fight against a high-level opponent, called a boss. Often marks the end of a level or a section of a game.(1)

Casual Games: An industry word for games that tend to be easy to learn, quick to play, and require far less computer memory and processing power than other computer and video games. E.g.: Minesweeper, Solitaire, Bejeweled.(2)

Collaboration: A way of working together requiring three distinct kinds of concerted effort: cooperating (acting purposefully toward a common goal), coordinating (synchronizing efforts and sharing resources), and cocreating (producing a novel outcome together).(2)

Daily/monthly active users (DAUs/MAUs): The number of individuals who visit your website on an average day or during the course of a month. Common metrics for social games. The ratio of these numbers indicates the intensity of user activity; a DAU/MAU ratio of 50% would mean that half the users visit every day.(1)

Engagement loop: The basic cycle of activity in a game, from motivation to activity to feedback which in turn motivates further actions.(1)

Epic fail: A major screw-up in a game, such as dying quickly in combat or falling off a ledge by accident.(1)

Epic win: A glorious victory in a game, usually stretching players to the limits of their abilities. Often connected to a boss fight or finishing a game.(1)

Eustress: Virtually identical to negative stress from a physiological and neurological standpoint: we produce adrenaline, our reward circuitry is activated, and blood flow increases to the attention control centers of the brain. Nevertheless, our frame of mind is fundamentally different: we’ve generated the stressful situation on purpose, so we’re confident and optimistic.(2)

Extrinsic motivation: Doing something for a reason other than for its own sake. This could be money, status, power, some other reward you value, direction by your boss, benefits for someone else you care about, etc.(1)

Fiero: Is the Italian word for “pride” and it was adopted by game designers to describe an emotional high we have when we win over adversity.(2)

Foursquare: A mobile social location application for smartphones which encourages users to check in at their current location to find information about the venue and other users who have done so.(1)

Game: A voluntary activity that operates within a ”magic circle” in which players follow the rules of the game rather than those of the real world.(1)

Game component: A particular structure in a game, implementing the game’s mechanics and dynamics. Points and badges are examples of games components.(1)

Game design: The overall process of creating engaging games, based on an understanding of player desires, technological feasibility, and business objectives. Distinguished from the narrower term “game development”, which is the technical implementation of a game.(1)

Game dynamic: The conceptual structures underlying a game, such as the narrative and rules (constraints) that shape the game. These are the most abstract game elements. Players feel their effects but do not engage with them directly.(1)

Game element: A design pattern that can be incorporated into a game. Game elements are the pieces that a game designer assembles in creating an engaging experience.(1)

Game mechanics: The processes that drive forward the action in a game, such as feedback or turns. Game mechanics are the actions that implement higher-level game dynamics and manifest themselves in lower-level game components.(1)

Game thinking: The process of addressing problems like a game designer by looking at how to motivate players and create engaging, fun experiences. Sometimes called “gameful thinking”, in contrast to unstructured “playful thinking”.(1)

Game for change: Serious games created for some social benefit, ranging from improving health and wellness to educating kids about the US political process.(1)

Gamification: The use of game elements and game thinking in non-game contexts.(1)

The Oxford dictionary defines gamification “the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun.

Interest curve: The pattern of gradually increasing difficulty in a game, structured to keep users interested at every stage. Typically, initial levels are easy and quick, to get players hooked, while end-game levels are difficult and long to provide sufficient challenges for experienced players.(1)

Intrinsic motivation: Doing something for its own sake. People are intrinsically motivated if they engage in activity without any hope of an external reward. According to Self-Determination Theory such activities evoke feelings of competence, autonomy and relatedness.(1)

Leaderboard: A ranked list of participants in a game, with the highest scores on top.(1)

Loyalty program: A program to reward regular customers with benefits in proportion to their level of activity. Airline frequent flyer programs are classic examples.(1)

Magic circle: the virtual or physical space where the rules of the game hold sway over those of the real world. The concept was introduced by early twentieth-century Dutch philosopher Johan Huizinga.(1)

Massively multiplayer onlinegame (MMOG): Games such as World of Warcraft, in which thousands or even millions of players interact in the same online virtual world. Many such games involve role-playing in fantasy or science fiction settings and are sometimes called massively multiplayer online role-player games (MMORPGs).(1)

Operant conditioning: A theory and process developed by psychologist B. F. Skinner in which behaviors are modified by rewards (and, in some approaches, by punishment also).(1)

Play: An essentially unconstrained experience if spontaneous fun, contrasted with the structured rules-based systems of games.(1)

Play testing: Trying out a game with actual players as a way of garnering feedback.(1)

Progression stairs: The cycle of advancement through the levels or other steps in a game. Essentially, a more detailed version of the game’s interest curve in which challenges are often followed by rest or consolidation periods along a generally upward trajectory.(1)

Quest: A specific mission or challenge for players of a game. The quest will usually have a narrative and an objective and a reward for completion.(1)

Self-Determination Theory: A psychological theory developed by Edwards Deci and Richard Ryan of the University of Rochester along with many collaborators, which defines and emphasizes the importance of intrinsic motivation.(1)

Serious games: Games created for a purpose other than enjoyment; typically some form of knowledge or skill development.(1)

Social games: Online games delivered through social networks, primarily Facebook, often with a significant element of social interaction. The most successful social games developer is Zynga, publisher of FarmVille, Words with Friends, Mafia Wars and Draw Something.(1)

Social graph: The network of relationships among friends such as the matrix of connections on Facebook or other social networking sites.(1)

Variable reward schedule: A prize or reward delivered on some non-predictable basis, such as the pay off of a slot machine. Contrasted with fixed interval rewards (guaranteed at regular time periods) or fixed-ratio rewards (guaranteed for a certain amount of activity).(1)

Virtual currency: A medium of exchange in a game, allowing players to purchase virtual goods or other benefits.(1)

Virtual economy: A functional market system in a game, typically including virtual currency and virtual goods that are subject at least in part to economic forces.(1)

Virtual goods: Virtual items that have value or uniqueness within a game environment. Players may be able to purchase virtual goods with virtual currency, real money, or through achievements within the game. Also called virtual assets.(1)

Virtual world: A persistent online community that allows for virtual interaction between players. Typically worlds involve immersive 3D environments, although it is not essential. Most are online role-playing games, but virtual worlds, such as Second Life, have no gameplay objectives.(1)

Win state: The outcomes of a game that constitute “winning”. Typically defined by the rules of the games and the game’s feedback or rewards mechanisms. (1)

Sources :

1. Kevin, Werbach, Hunter, Dan, “For the Win. How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business”, Wharton Digital Press, Philadelphia, 2012;

2. McGonigal, Jane, “Reality is Broken. Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World”, Penguin Press, USA, 2011.


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