Glossary

Posts around here tend to accumulate names of concepts that I invent or borrow from other helpful sources. Here’s a term sheet for ease of reference.


Conservatism (or design conservatism). Recycling some element of a prior game primarily because that element was fun or effective before. See also: nostalgia; story continuation. More here.

Design conservatism. See conservatism.

Five-act RPG. A role-playing game whose narrative is broadly arranged into, in order, (1) exposition, (2) a rising action, (3) a crisis leading to a climax, (4) a falling action, and (5) a dénouement. More here.

Interesting decisions. The moments in a game that require the player to engage in strategic, tactical, or logistical problem-solving; these moments are also the building blocks that make gameplay fun and engaging. See also: logistics; strategy; tactics. More here.

Logistics (or logistical decisions). Physical tasks performed in a game to effectuate tactical and strategic goals—so, in a video game, pressing controller buttons in certain combinations and with certain timing. See also: interesting decisions; strategy; tactics. More here.

Nostalgia. Recycling some element of a prior game primarily as a reference to entertain players of the prior game, something like an in-joke. See also: conservatism; story continuation. More here.

NPC irony. The use of dialogue spoken by a non-player character that is intended to convey a direction, instruction, or tip to the player. More here.

Permadeath. The feature that when a character in a game dies, they become permanently irretrievable to the player. More here.

Project. In Fire Emblem, a character who needs special attention and extra training to reach the proficiency of other characters, but whose potential value to the player once fully trained is exceptionally high. More here.

Story continuation. Recycling some element of a prior game primarily to show that the current and prior games are both parts of a single narrative. See also: conservatism; nostalgia. More here.

Strategy (or strategic decisions). Decisions in a game relating to long-term planning over the course of a large amount of in-game time, usually made without the input of opponents’ reactions or other dynamic in-game forces. See also: interesting decisions; logistics; tactics. More here.

Tactics (or tactical decisions). Decisions in a game relating to short-term planning, usually made in response to opponents’ decisions or the exercise of other dynamic in-game forces. See also: interesting decisions; logistics; strategy. More here.

Turtling. In Fire Emblem, playing a chapter overly slowly and defensively (whether by choice or by necessity) in order to avoid most, or any, risk to characters. More here.