The superficial representation of a game’s underlying mechanics and concepts. Images, sounds and other forms of feedback which tell you what you’re doing in the game. In a driving game, for example, the racing track and car are a metaphor for the rules at play. Some games are very metaphor-heavy, while others provide very little.
“Any given battle in Final Fantasy VII is bursting with special effects, imposing enemies and dubious attack animations, metaphors which help us swallow the turn-based number crunch.”