[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Apr 12 19:18:50 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Paul Schwanz writes:

> As I recall (and please feel free to correct me if I've totally
> missed the core of the concept), the statement went something like
> this:

>   "Fun is the primary and key component of games."


> The perspective I'd like to present goes as follows:

>   - Prose-based entertainment (a book) does not necessarily have
>   fun as the primary and key component.

>   - Stage-based entertainment (theatre) does not necessarily have
>   fun as the primary and key component.

>   - Screen-based entertainment (a movie) does not necessarily have
>   fun as the primary and key component.

>   - So why must interactive entertainment have fun as the primary
>   and key component?

You've used the word extensively, but for some reason it hasn't come
out as the 'answer'.

Games are about entertainment.  They are about delighting.

This covers the majority of people who are enjoying any form of
entertainment.  Mixed in with those people are those who are zealots
of the form of entertainment and are seeking something deeper, more
fulfilling, than the rest.  In a positive way, they are
afficianados.  In a negative way, they are fanatics, the extreme
fringe who identify too strongly with what others consider simple
entertainment.  The fanatics do not delight in their time in the
game.  They identify strongly with the game and when something
doesn't go as they feel it must, they get vehemently, possibly
violently, upset about it.

Anyone seeking 'entertainment' can walk away from a game.  Anyone
seeking more will have a very difficult time of it.

The term 'game' as I'm referring to it covers the popular notion of
a game, not the entire gammut of what the word 'game' is applied to.
I offer this little disclaimer because somebody pointed out that
'war games' has the term 'game' in it.

Having said all of this, I am of the opinion that the gaming
industry needs to rediscover the 'entertainment' or 'delight' side
of gaming.  Stop catering to fanatics and encouraging the fanatic
side of players.  There *is* delight and entertainment to be found
in the games.  But the basic premise of 'working' on levels and
accomplishments is not consistent with the idea of 'entertainment'
and 'delight'.  If you can come up with an entertainment vehicle
that requires a large investment by the player and all of that
investment produces delight, then you're all set.  When players view
your entertainment as work, you've missed.


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