Game design patterns are a collection and description of recurring game mechanics, (rules & systems), play mechanics (interaction, flow & feel), game types (competition, cooperation, etc.), technical forms (side scrolling, top down, board games, cards, etc.) and game-play experience (eye-hand coordination, puzzling, etc.). Game design patterns are derived from observation of other games and can be used in many ways (i.e. analysis, inspiration, reference or a lexicon).
As reference- As we play more and more games, patterns become a way for the game designers to categorize recurring design choices in games. Using these patterns as reference allows the game designer to inform his own design choices. For example, a game designer that is making a FPS would want to understand the basics of all the patterns that are typical to the genre.
As a lexicon-
- A collection of descriptions describing common design considerations (e.g. characters, points, health, lives rock-paper-scissor, etc.)
- Descriptions range from informal and anecdotal to structured with templates.
The Video Game Theory Reader 2
Patterns in Game Design (Game Development Series)
21st Century Game Design (Charles River Media Game Development)
Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
Game Architecture and Design: Learn the Best Practices for Game Design and Programming
Game Design: A Practical Approach (Game Development Series)
Chris Crawford on Game Design
Game Development Essentials: Gameplay Mechanics
Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds