Game mechanics are sets of rules written into a video game that, through their interactions with other rules and with the player's choices, make up the experience of playing a game. Game mechanics are related to game genres, as games in a specific genre will often feature many of the same mechanics, although implemented or interpreted in different ways. These subtle differences, combined with differences in theme, art style, pace, difficulty and other factors, allow games that may appear very similar on paper to feel very different to the player. Game mechanics can be defined in broad, high-level terms ("role-playing," "character movement") or in extremely specific ones ("battle-earned experience point leveling system," "mid-air jump redirection"), so defining a complete set of them would be extremely difficult and not terribly helpful. However, just as certain genres may lend themselves to teaching specific subjects, some game mechanics are closely aligned with real-world concepts or skills that are often taught in school. A very limited set of examples of common game mechanics is listed below, along with suggestions for related skills or subjects.
|Game mechanic||Definition||Educational connections|
|Leveling up||The player becomes more powerful after achieving some goal, such as earning a set number of experience points by battling enemies or exploring more of the game world.||No direct connection. However, the sense of accomplishment and motivation to proceed with play that this mechanic creates can be a boon for student motivation in games whose content aligns in other ways with educational goals.|
|Buying and selling goods||The player acts as a traveling merchant, buying, finding or looting goods in one place and selling them for the highest possible price in another place.||Microeconomics, math, business, strategic thinking.|
|Role-playing||The player takes on a role within the game world and acts according to a set of self-defined motivation and characteristics. Role-playing may be an explicit game mechanic that directly affects the game narrative (for example by choosing responses during story-related dialogue sequences) or an activity undertaken solely by the player but not recognized explicitly by the game.||Microeconomics, math, business, strategic thinking.|
|Buying and selling goods||The player acts as a traveling merchant, buying, finding or looting goods in one place and selling them for the highest possible price in another place.||Creative writing, morality and ethics, philosophy, managing interpersonal relationships.|
|Puzzle solving||The player uses some combination of clues, logic, reflexes and found objects to overcome an obstacle that otherwise prevents further progress through the game world and narrative.||Reading comprehension, logic and reasoning, hand-eye coordination.|
|Resource management||The player skillfully manages limited resources such as time, money, military units, building materials or number of possible actions in order to achieve a pre-defined goal.||Logic and reasoning, strategic thinking, systems thinking.|