Main Page

From gameontology
Jump to: navigation, search

Game Ontology Project

The Game Ontology Project (GOP) is a framework for describing, analyzing and studying games. It is a hierarchy of concepts abstracted from an analysis of many specific games. GOP borrows concepts and methods from prototype theory as well as grounded theory to achieve a framework that is always growing and changing as new games are analyzed or particular research questions are explored.

The Game Ontology Project's approach is to develop a game ontology that identifies the important structural elements of games and the relationships between them, organizing them hierarchically. The use of the term ontology is borrowed from computer science, and refers to the identification and (oftentimes formal) description of entities within a domain. Often, the elements are derived from common game terminology (e.g. level and boss) and then refined by both by abstracting more general concepts and by identifying more precise or specific concepts. An ontology is different than a game taxonomy in that, rather than organizing games by their characteristics or elements, it is the elements themselves that are organized. This approach is well suited to exploring issues and questions regarding games and gameplay. The GOP provides a framework for exploring, dissecting and understanding the relationships between different game elements. A few examples of research questions we have already begun to explore include: "How can we understand interactivity in games?", "How is gameplay regulated over the progress of a game?", and "What roles does space play within games?". Some of our explorations are also available in the publications area.

Top-Level Elements of the Ontology


See all entries in this hierarchy


See all entries in this hierarchy

Entity Manipulation

See all entries in this hierarchy


See all entries in this hierarchy

Getting Started

We welcome your participation! In order to get the most out of your experience, you might want to familiarize yourself with the project as well as how wikis work.

Work in Progress


  • 2020
    • Debus, M., Zagal, J.P., Cardona-Rivera, R., A Typology of Imperative Game Goals, Game Studies 20:3.
    • Cardona-Rivera, R., Zagal, J.P., Debus, M., Narrative Goals in Games: A Novel Nexus of Story and Gameplay, Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) 2020, Malta.
  • 2019
    • Zagal, J.P., Debus, M., Cardona-Rivera, R., On the Ultimate Goals of Games: Winning, Finishing, and Prolonging, Proceedings of the 13th International Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, St Petersburg, Russia.
  • 2010
    • Zagal, J. P. and Mateas, M., Time in Videogames: A Survey and Analysis, Simulation & Gaming, 41(6), 844-868.
  • 2008
    • Zagal, J.P., Bruckman, A. Novices, Gamers, and Scholars: Exploring the Challenges of Teaching About Games, Game Studies 8:2
    • Zagal, J. P., Fernandez-Vara, C., Mateas, M. Rounds, Levels, and Waves: The Early Evolution of Gameplay Segmentation, Games & Culture. Vol. 3. No. 2, 175-198
  • 2007
    • Zagal, J. P. and Mateas, M., Temporal Frames: A Unifying Framework for the Analysis of Game Temporality, Proceedings of the Digital Interactive Games Research Association Conference (DiGRA 2007), Tokyo, Japan, 516-523.
  • 2005
    • Zagal, J., Mateas, M., Fernandez-Vara, C., Hochhalter, B. and Lichti, N., Towards an Ontological Language for Game Analysis, In Proceedings of the Digital Interactive Games Research Association Conference (DiGRA 2005), Vancouver B.C., June, 2005. Included in the Selected Papers volume.
    • Fernandez-Vara, C., Zagal, J., Mateas, M., Evolution of Spatial Configurations In Videogames, In Proceedings of the Digital Interactive Games Research Association Conference (DiGRA 2005), Vancouver B.C., June, 2005. Included in the Selected Papers volume.

Related Work using the Game Ontology


Members, past and present, of the Game Ontology Project

Related Projects


You might also be interested in using GameLog, an online system for keeping journals of your gameplaying activity. We have found it useful in our work on the Game Ontology Project.

The Game Ontology Wiki was formerly hosted by DePaul University's College of Computing and Digital Media. Prior to that it was maintained by the Experimental Game Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology.