A system, rule or conceptual element of play. Ludemes are distinct from specific mechanics and tangible play objects, and are characterised by their mimetic qualities–that is, they can easily be transferred from one game to another. While a level gaining system is specific to a single game, the concept of “experience points” is a portable ludeme.
Other examples include the idiosyncrasies of individual piece movement in Chess, or the concept of physically customisable player characters.
“It’s played for comedy, but jokes about depressingly familiar tutorial steps only work in Blood Dragon because the particularly beige ‘step-by-step’ tutorial ludeme is so prevalent.”