Gameplay may be defined as the interaction between a player's choices and the rules of a game as the player attempts to overcome the challenges presented to them. Gameplay is not to be confused with the rules themselves, or the set of possible actions a player may take, but the actual way a game is played (Juul 83). This is part of the desired "end user experience" provided by a game, a "feel" game designers often aim for. To many, gameplay ought to foster fun (see Raph Koster's Theory of Fun).

If a relatively simple ruleset brings about complex gameplay (in chess, for example), the gameplay is often described as emergent gameplay. But, because players almost always have the choice to get around challenges in a way the creator did not intend, all gameplay contains some level of emergence.