Game design principles for engaging cooperative play: core mechanics and interfaces for non-mimetic simulation of fire emergency response Conference Paper uri icon


  • Core mechanics are the activities that players repeat to play a game, the central aspects of play constrained by rules. Interfaces mediate play experiences, impacting engagement with core mechanics. We design core mechanics for gathering, integrating, and sharing information, based on team coordination practices of fire emergency responders. We connect these mechanics with interfaces that impact player engagement. Mechanics and interfaces combine into a non-mimetic simulation game, which eschews fire and smoke, in favor of re-creating information flows and team structures. We describe the iteration of mechanics and interface components as shaped by practice, pilot games, participatory redesign sessions, and long-term user studies. The result is integrated core mechanics that we develop from work practice and interface components that support engagement with them. From this data, we construct game design principles for engaging cooperative play: information distribution, modulating visibility, providing the right information in the right time, making predictable, and understandable representations for shared mental models. 2009 ACM.

name of conference

  • Proceedings of the 2009 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games

published proceedings

  • Proceedings of the 2009 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games

author list (cited authors)

  • Toups, Z. O., Kerne, A., & Hamilton, W.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Toups, Zachary O||Kerne, Andruid||Hamilton, William

publication date

  • January 2009