2 min read

Games in three dimensions

Can we classify games in three dimensions, where X is simplicity/complexity, Y is high accessibility/low accessibility, and Z is casual or asynch / immersive or real-time?

 cartesian coordinate 3D graph example


After a great talk on simplicity vs. complexity in game design at MIT's GAMBIT Lab by Andrew Grant, I'm left thinking about how otherwise I'd think about a scale against which you could classify a game.

During the talk, I came up with three dimensions:

  • simplicity vs. complexity
    simple game examples: go or Pong
    complex game examples:  Eve Online or interactive improvised storytelling games
  • accessibility vs not so much
    accessible: Farmville or Fable
    not so much: ancient miniatures (lead figuring wargame) or Ikaruga
  • asynch/casual vs. synchronous - real time - immersive
    asynch/casual:  Trevian or Farmville
    synchronous, etc.: Red Baron, any RTS, Guitar Hero

Many games bridge these.  One player may approach virtual worlds as a synchronous social game.  Another may throw up a window in Second Life for the music stream from a live performer, and not even pay attention.  Civilization is asynch by mechanics -- it's turn based -- but many players adopt an immersive marathon style in playing it -- and it's designed for that too.

This isn't a hard taxonomy, so much as a tool for mulling over.  Where do your mechanics fall?  Do your players have the same experience or want the same experience as you designed?

No answers, always more questions!

Latest Jobs


Playa Vista, California
Audio Engineer

Digital Extremes

London, Ontario, Canada
Communications Director

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, California
Senior Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
Lead UI Programmer
More Jobs   


Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter


Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more