Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!
This week we are going to define the game design term “gameplay loop.” This is, admittedly, a heavier word than we have defined before, but understanding what a gameplay loop is will help understand the games that our kids (and we) play a great deal!
A Gameplay Loop is a game design term that is used to describe the repetitive activities that a player will take while playing a game. It, essentially, defines what the player DOES while playing. Every level you complete in Super Mario Run, Pokemon you catch in Pokemon Go, and level you gain in Final Fantasy XV is an example of one (or more) gameplay loops.
One gameplay loop example from a shooting game might work like this: (Shout out to Morten Grauballe for the killer example.)
- a target appears
- you aim at the target
- you pull the trigger
- the projectile moves towards the target
- you hit the target
- the target loses life
This is a “core” gameplay loop because, with a shooter, this is the activity that a player will be doing most often. It is worth noting, though, that games will often have more than one loop going at the same time. This is especially true in more complex games like RPGs.
Take a look a this example of a gameplay loop you might take from the game World of Warcraft. This is very complex game so each of these steps might include several other smaller loops that players would complete in the process.
- You enter a new zone
- You gather all of the quests from all of the different NPCs in the first quest hub
- You move around the zone completing quest objectives
- You return to the quest hub
- You turn in all of the quests you have completed and collect your rewards
- You move to the next quest hub
- … and so on.
Thinking critically about the games our kids play and the way that our kids play them provides great insight. It is also a great way to connect with them. You’ll understand the games they enjoy better. You might even enjoy them a little better too!