I’m currently preparating a lecture for a class on “Sensation” aesthetics for game design (i.e. the ways in which games evoke sense-pleasure through images, music and movement). In doing so I’ve been thinking about Scott McCloud’s Big Triangle. For those unfamiliar with it (and if this is you, you should go read Understanding Comics right now), it is a depiction of the continuum of artistic styles between realistic, iconic and abstract art.
Most game designers are familiar with McCloud’s work so I won’t go over the details here. Other’s have already dealt with the implications for game art, but it occurs to me the the same triangle could be drawn for game mechanics.