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Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics (MDA) is a game design framework that helps developers to look at the comprehensive design of the game technology. It breaks down game design into three categories that can be useful for holistic analysis.
The three components of Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics each have representation in a game environment. The mechanics of the game are generally intangible and not observable. For instance, a game engine is a good example of game mechanics — it produces outcomes, but it runs in the background, or it supports the dynamic outputs. Dynamics are observable results that the mechanics generate — such as a series of user events observable in the game setting. The aesthetics then refers to the appearance of the game and the player’s experience and interactions.
MDA is useful in working with overall game design. Programmers and engineers may focus on one or more of these elements in trying to optimize game play, but they will utilize changes to mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics in different ways.