Abstract for:Games are systems! - teaching Game Design with System Thinking

Games are regularly viewed as systems, both by game designers and gamers, so one would think that System Thinking would be a key element in Game Design. So far though, this has not been the case. Often game designers and game design literature lacks proven scientific tools, such as System Analysis and System Dynamics, to use in the design process. Game Design also often uses a linear approach to design (A causes B causes C causes D etc...), the nonlinear approach used in System Thinking is often not present (A causes B but B also have a feedback loop back to A etc.).

This article describes how System Thinking is used in game design, and give some examples of which parts of the game development that can benefit from this. The article also discuss how students have used System Analyses, and specially System Dynamics, to not only design the game, but also balance the game by massively simulating game outcomes.