Chapter 5.2. Techniques for Creating Fun
It is a book about games, after all.
It's hard to talk
about creating immersion in games without addressing the most primary emotional experience that people seek out through games: a sense of play and fun.
This chapter addresses techniques of creating fun in games, and explores ways game designers might build upon this knowledge, in order to continue to create fun for this and future generations.
In the beginning was the Game, and the Game was good. And the Great Game Designer looked down upon the game and said, "Let There Be Fun."
And lo, from near and far, both the young and the wrinkled timidly put down their school books and their briefcases. Hesitantly, they walked out of the shadows and approached the Great Console, which was the altar of the Great Game Designer.
They moved the joystick, and they felt joy. And lo, they were so elated and so emboldened that they then dared to demand that no one ever used the expression "And lo" again, as it sounded far too corny.
And lo, no one ever did. And fun reigned. But then a new desire swept across the land. With one voice, both the young and wrinkled begged the Great Game Designer, "How can we have even more fun?"
The Great Game designer felt pity for his flock, and also a desire to perfect his creation, as well as a desire to add a multitude of zeros unto the Great Number in his bank account.
So the Great Game Designer sent me an email asking for one last chapter on fun, and I said, "Sure, I'll take a whack at it."
So here goes. But I must admit I had some help.
At one of the GDCs, I had the good fortune to attend a two-day workshop on "Game Tuning." Small groups were given exercises in game design that really challenged long-ossified neural pathways.
To give credit where it's due, the very bright and generous leaders of the workshop were, in alphabetical order, Robert Fermier, Austin Grossman, Robin Hunicke, Frank Lantz, Marc LeBlanc, Andrew Leker, Art Min, Tim Stellmach, and Eric Zimmerman.
I won't reprise all the interesting challenges the workshop leaders set up for the attending group, but I do want to acknowledge them in particular for actually trying to provide a categorization of different ways of having fun, and for doing quite a respectable job. I've expanded somewhat upon their system, and I thank them for their good work.