gameplay n.

the (characteristic) way in which a player interacts with an (electronic) game; the tactical aspects of play, such as rules, plot, etc., as distinct from graphics or sound effects

OED has evidence for the broader sense ‘the action or process of playing a game or games; game-playing’ from 1920.


  • 1979 Star Raiders (videogame manual, 5 July draft) 2 page image

    After reading these instructions carefully, acquaint yourself with the basic operations of the game, and with using the Joystick, then start playing. After each game you will know more about the important aspects of gameplay, and the depth of the game will become apparent to you. [Ibid. 5] The following Keyboard keys control and direct the STAR RAIDERS gameplay: [etc.].

  • 1982 R. Meyers The Exidy Experiment in Videogaming Illustrated Dec. 38/4 page image

    All of these games offered players something new in gameplay or hardware, reflecting Kaufman’s bias toward innovation.

  • 1987 Analog Computing Oct. 63 page image

    Additional peripherals soon to be available from Nintendo can make gameplay even more exciting.

  • 1999 C. Herndon Electro Games in Amazing Stories Winter 84/2 page image Cory J. Herndon bibliography

    Ultimately, if the gameplay is good, the action is compelling, and the story line grabs you from the get-go, does it really matter whether a particular game is truly science fiction?

  • 1999 N. Lowe Mutant Popcorn in Interzone (#145) July 43/2 page image Nick Lowe bibliography

    The eXistenZ game, supposedly a world-beater, looks like the world’s least enjoyable game ever: no action, little gameplay, no narrative propulsion, lots of confusing and pointless twists, easy clues, [etc.].

  • 2016 Starburst Magazine (#422) Mar. 118/4 page image

    Overall, gameplay is smooth, easy to pick up, varied and fun and the bits that make up the game aren’t bad either.

  • 2023 A. Parrish Baldur’s Gate 3 on PS5 in The Verge 13 Sept. page image

    Being a Dungeons & Dragons-based game, Baldur’s Gate 3 has a wealth of intricate systems—exploration, combat, and roleplay—that feed into one another and fuel the kinds of emergent gameplay that’s made this game so phenomenally successful.

Research requirements

antedating 1979

Research History
The 1979 quotation is from a draft manual for Atari's Star Raiders videogame, which was released in 1980. The cover page of the manual is erroneously dated "5 July 1969"; the next page (the only other one with a date) is dated "21 June 1979".

Last modified 2024-06-05 12:58:52
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.