This chapter explores games as a major object of study in both new media theory and practice. Two primary critical approaches, organized around procedure and play, have dominated game studies in the early 2000s. This essay advocates a middle ground through a form of experience design that foregrounds the ways a game affects players and how players can be affected by it: experientially, kinesthetically, and ideologically. The main site for this elaboration of affect is game mechanics. A focus on mechanics helps us be attentive to the range of possible play experiences, including gradations and shadings of various named emotions and nonconscious intensities. A brief theoretical overview of major competing contemporary perspectives in game studies opens up into a consideration for using a practice-based research method to design learning-oriented and serious games in new media studies. The chapter draws from close readings of existing digital and analog games, as well as techniques developed through the creative process in the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab.