I use the word “mechanics” a lot. Also “systems.”

There’s an episode of Extra Credits that discusses the differences between mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics of play. I’m not going to give you the link, you’ll have to find it yourself. I think it’s fairly early on in the series.

A lot of my design work focuses on mechanics and aesthetics — which are how the game works and how the game feels. The dynamics of play are something that become more evident through playtesting because that’s where you see mechanics interact, and where the aesthetics emerge.

Often I start with an aesthetic problem — mine are usually related to bookkeeping but I promise that I do work on other types of problems too — and work backward through my play experiences (looking for examples of dynamics) until I can narrow the cause down to a few possible mechanics.

It isn’t so complicated if you imagine I’m fixing a rattling noise in a car.

Mechanics is a branch of physics and dynamics is a branch of mechanics. Aesthetics is the necessary human element, “play experience,” and is less subjective than you might think — most people are basically the same.

It shouldn’t be surprising then that I read science journals for inspiration — even if gaming seems like about as far removed from astronomy and string theory as you can get, gaming is pretty much the physics Amateur Hour.

We’re modeling worlds with game rules. Physics informs gaming.

My ideas for “parallel encounters” are inspired by quantum entanglement.

For the aesthetic side of things, I study history, philosophy, and psychology. Of course I also study astrology and archaic medicine because they’ve shaped how people have thought about themselves for thousands of years.

Linguistics also fits in there somewhere, because it reflects how people have described themselves — and there are few things that shape a person’s perception of a thing as much as how they describe it.

Most of what I know I’ve researched independently but I recently began taking accounting classes. That’s right — it all comes back to bookkeeping.