Okay, here goes nothing. Games can tell stories, they can elicit responses, emotions, they can give us all sorts of experiences. There is no doubt games can include art and often do, but what about the games design itself, how does that manage to be artistic? How can the mechanics of a game themselves affect us, how can interactivity itself be used to affect us? Everyone has their own answer to this question, as far as I can see here is where we need to found a new (well, fairly new) discipline. The answer to those questions isn’t simple; the answer is an entire new field of study, an entire new subject to research. All games designers are always answering this question in their own way, there are whole disciplines actually contained in this larger one. While books have been written on the subject and it’s the theme of countless blogs, I’ve yet to see a truly compelling account of the new field of study as a whole. Setting aside theories on how to actually make games that can affect us, what are the different tools we have available, at the most abstract? What paradigms can we work within? I’ve come up with a list of things only games can do, the classic examples of what we can do with interactive media. There may well be some I’ve missed (hopefully!), though it is intended to be as all-encompassing as possible. Here we go!