MDA of Solitaire

I thoroughly enjoy the balance of simplicity and challenge while playing Solitaire. It’s a card game I like to play it on my phone between meetings or when I need a mental break.

According to Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek, mechanics are the various actions, behaviors and control mechanisms afforded to the player within a game context. In the version of Solitaire I play, the computer deals the cards for me, so I don’t have to think too much about the setup rules which are a part of the mechanics. Instead, I can focus my energy on the dynamics: releasing and playing into position certain cards to build up each of the four foundations, in sequence (ace to king) and in suit (heart, diamonds, spades, and clubs). This becomes the core challenge as the cards are dealt in random order and each game becomes a unique problem solving challenge.

In order words, Solitaire becomes “fun” because it is an obstacle course! The game’s aesthetic is driven by challenge — figuring out the right opportunities and sequences to unlock the foundations are quickly as possible. Submission is a secondary form of aesthetic driving the game, as it offers the convenience of being played by one person at any time and is quite simple and straightforward in terms of structure. It doesn’t require much thinking and provides a dopamine hit with every win! No wonder it’s a classic.

Confetti to celebrate the completion of the challenge

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