Agent – Any actionable character in a video game. This could be other players or non-playable characters.

Aggression – Any form of intentional, active confrontation between a player and an in-game agent.

Conflict – The act of characters or players working to obtain something. The “something” could be an item, greater skills, societal status, or something else entirely. 

Pacifism – A nonviolent ideology. The most popular branch of pacifism refers to those that are anti-war, while other branches advocate for war in “just” times, or are against violence in all circumstances.

Semiotic domains – Associations between concepts that communicate meanings distinct to that domain. Everything exists within a semiotic domain. There’s a semiotic domain for math, golf, television, religion, and video games, since all have unique definitions and understandings of specific words.

Verb – In the context of games, verbs are the actions coded into the game that players can do. Common verbs in games include shooting, jumping, and walking.

Violence – Behavior that inflicts physical harm upon another person or animal  


Dr. Rebecca Richards (St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota) curates Thoughtful Play.
If you’re interested in creating your own project for Thoughtful play, contact