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Systemic Design and Game Design: The equilibrium gameplay loop -48

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Laureline Chiapello

Game design is a recent design discipline concerned with the making of games, especially digital ones. Game designers must often tackle complex, wicked problems; Indeed, in game design literature, games are increasingly referred to as “complex systems” (Fullerton, 2008; Maiorana, 2020; Salen & Zimmerman, 2003; Sellers, 2017; Zubek, 2020). However, research in game design using a systemic approach is still in its infancy, and the visualization of game systems poses certain challenges for game designers. Firstly, a mechanistic approach still dominates the field of game studies (Koenitz & Eladhari, 2021). Secondly, representing game systems visually is a daring task, as stressed in various works about game loops and game diagrams (Berube, 2019; Francillette et al., 2017; Guardiola, 2016; Palavalli & Harsha, 2020). Therefore, the present paper asks: how can a systemic approach help designers understand and visualize core game systems?

The theoretical framework comes from the French systemic approach (De Rosnay, 1979; De Rosnay, 1979 [1975]; Le Moigne, 1977, 1990; Morin, 2008) and builds specifically upon the work of Joël De Rosnay. We show how systems maintain themselves over time in a dynamic equilibrium. The result of this study is a visual representation of game systems, namely the equilibrium gameplay loop. In the end, equilibrium gameplay loops can be used to better understand game systems—both existing and new—and further develop systemic design research and practice.

Keywords: video games, game design, game system, prototyping, equilibrium, feedback loops

Pre-proceedings drafts are available for RSD11 participants to review. The corresponding paper number is at the end of the title. The papers have been peer-reviewed, and the authors have made revisions. Following RSD11, authors will have a final period to revise their work from the feedback received at RSD before the proceedings are formally published.

Posted September 2022

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Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium. rsdsymposium.org/LINK.