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Author Topic: Displacing 'fun' from the game designer's lexicon  (Read 20546 times)
KniteBlargh
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« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2009, 10:59:35 AM »

Discussions like this about words, whether or not people should use certain words, how the words should be used, if at all, just make me feel like never using the words being discussed ever again. My vocabulary will slowly decrease over time as more words are picked apart.

I guess from now on, instead of saying "This game was super fun!", I'll just have to say something like "I like this game for no reason!", "Game me liketh!", "This game was super ***!", or "I like this game, but I can't tell you how I really feel about it, because I'm afraid of using a word that may trigger a large discussion!" All of those sound really great... Seriously... Really great... Yeah.

 Beer!
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agj
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« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2009, 11:30:24 AM »

By talking about fun in general, you're overlaying your idea of the word onto everyone else. It's lazy. If something is or isn't fun to you, you should think about why that is and try to explain it in deeper terms than this highly subjective three letter word.

Haowan summed up my point really well here. It's not a thing about semantics, it's about actually having intelligent, meaningful discussion.

1) Gamers don't know why they have fun playing a game
2) Game designers don't know why the game they made is fun

Point 1 is true, but I was addressing game designers here, not players: if a player tells you your game is fun, you have to go deeper than that and figure out the reason. Point 2 is precisely what I want to address!

You might say that calling a game fun is vague. But when you then say: it's beautiful, then I can say that calling it beatiful is also vague. If you then say that it's beautiful because of the lighting or atmoshpere I can say that that too is vague. Catch my drift?

The closer one gets to the root, the better.
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Xion
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« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2009, 11:34:47 AM »

What KnightBlargh said. Big Laff
I mean
does it really matter?
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eddietree
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« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2009, 11:58:56 AM »

This article was FUN to read!
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Zaphos
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« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2009, 12:33:40 PM »

Haowan summed up my point really well here. It's not a thing about semantics, it's about actually having intelligent, meaningful discussion.
Using the word fun doesn't preclude that though.

The closer one gets to the root, the better.
It's often good to start with broad detail, and add specifics as needed.
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TeeGee
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« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2009, 02:25:50 PM »

I propose we stop talking about talking about videogames and start talking about making videogames.
Fixed.
Hm, I would not disagree with you. Tongue  (Though, of course I see the benefit of discussion.  I wouldn't be moderating this forum if I didn't.)
I think theoretical discussions would be more fine in my book, if so many people wouldn't get stuck on that level and never go any further. You can always discuss your design principles after you make an awesome game based on them Wink. It's a well-deserved break from development then, and discussing existing games/designs always seems more valuable to me than theorizing till the cows come home. 
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Tom Grochowiak
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« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2009, 04:12:59 PM »

Thanks for bringing this up agj!

I think you've definitely got a very valid point, and I really don't think there's a good counter to it.

I've personally hated using "fun" (and it's equal "enjoyable") when talking about games for quite some time, so it's nice to hear I'm not alone there.  As you said, if we really want to look at games maturely, we need to dump simplistic meaningless stuff like that.

And really, some of the best art is incredibly far from "fun" or enjoyable; I think "worthwhile" is probably best to describe some of the darker works of art our species has produced.  They bring up important valid points, but they're certainly not points we like to be exposed to.

nor was there any colored-key-for-colored-door nonsense--the experience was pure
I take it you had some complaints with Knytt Stories then?  :D

I generally agree though, and I think Nano was actually my favorite of the 3 because, to me, it felt like an even more refined Knytt, and it's short simplicity definitely allowed for the pure experience to shine through (plus, being an atmospheric game, the graphics and music are huge, and they are way above the original Knytt's).
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Zaphos
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« Reply #27 on: January 07, 2009, 04:47:07 PM »

And really, some of the best art is incredibly far from "fun" or enjoyable; I think "worthwhile" is probably best to describe some of the darker works of art our species has produced.  They bring up important valid points, but they're certainly not points we like to be exposed to.
'Worthwhile' is as ambiguous and subjective as 'fun' -- both are meaningful, but not specific.
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Zest
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« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2009, 05:44:55 PM »

I'd like to throw in the word "honest" as a phrase describing the best art. Y'know, the whole "art holds up a mirror to nature", etc., etc. Even if it doesn't literally reflect our world in an exact manner (i.e. The Lord of the Rings books), it does reveal a truthful examination of human nature (namely, power and its corrupting abilities). Like the others, "honest" can be fairly subjective, but what the hey.
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konjak
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2009, 05:55:26 PM »

Whenever I hear people say that games need to stop being referred to as "fun" I can't help but wonder why these people got into games to begin with. Surely it was because they thought games were fun, not because they felt, from the start, this medium should be about deep, meaningful expression and serious subjects, and as such that will somehow make it art.

Do you not watch movies for fun? Do you not watch TV for a bit or read a book for fun? This is not the way to make games "become art", art is art to the individual.

I just get upset because I make games for fun, I play them for fun and I want my games to make people have fun. I think that's a pure approach without needless complexity. The content within the games can be whatever they want, whatever expression, I just think we shouldn't try to pursue abolishing what the word "game" is about.

Why do we need a somehow public validation for our games as art anyway? The majority of western people already play games as it is, and surely a lot take them seriously.

I don't mean to upset anyone, I just felt like expressing my opinion.
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Annabelle Kennedy
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« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2009, 06:05:16 PM »

I'm.. really with konjak on this...  I'm sure its just my 'uncultured' taste but for me, games that try too hard to be deeply emotional or sentimental (read: passage) just sadden me and do not really at all embrace what i feel konjak is saying (games should be fun?)... what is the point of taking the 'fun' out of game other then some sort of self satisfaction in making an enjoyable experience unenjoyable??  Do i want to play 'art'?.. if that means making depressed then no.  no i dont.
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agj
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« Reply #31 on: January 07, 2009, 07:28:03 PM »

nor was there any colored-key-for-colored-door nonsense--the experience was pure
I take it you had some complaints with Knytt Stories then?  :D

Naw, it's just a different game with different objectives in mind, which don't necessarily fit those of its predecessor exactly. But the original is my favorite.


To Konjak and Annabelle:

Guys, let me make this clear: This thread is not about games as art, or anything like that. I have my own opinion on games being only vehicles for fun, but I'm not trying to bring that here. All I'm saying is that we need to understand the games we make, and the word 'fun' does not help us do that. Konjak, you make games that focus on action and excitement, and you actively try to make them fun through these means. Evidently, you have a good intuitive grasp of what it takes to make a fun game with your own personal branding. But you're obviously aware that your games are not fun because of some Magical Fun Jelly that you covered them on. So, were we to analyze, say, Noitu Love 2, we can't really say 'it's hella fun' and put the topic to rest, because that says nothing about all the little details you added, all the different options for controls and art you had to consider, the kind of pacing you put on the stream of enemies and bosses, etc. 'Fun', in the end, tells us nothing but our own gut reaction to the sum of the parts, which is important, but does not help us understand a game.


edit: Sorry, I tried to narrow down the subject of this thread because previous threads about 'games as art' have gotten a little out of hand.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2009, 07:32:42 PM by agj » Logged

Zaphos
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« Reply #32 on: January 07, 2009, 07:57:35 PM »

But you're obviously aware that your games are not fun because of some Magical Fun Jelly that you covered them on. So, were we to analyze, say, Noitu Love 2, we can't really say 'it's hella fun' and put the topic to rest
This seems kind of like a straw man -- I don't see people really doing that?  At least, not the people who would read and be influenced by this thread ...

I think gut reactions do help us understand games, though.  They're sort of a core truth -- beyond that, a lot of analysis can go wrong, people can misattribute their enjoyment in any number of ways, but the gut reaction is kind of the raw experimental data that we can always come back to.  I don't see a way to remove that from your understanding of a game.
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konjak
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« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2009, 07:59:03 PM »

It's just a recent conglomeration against calling games fun lately that has gotten to me a bit. My school of thought is that if you know good design, it'll come to you naturally and subconsciously. The very best in various fields of media have a "nack" for what they do. Analyze and dismember every aspect of their design and recreating it may still not make an equally great thing. I know that when I make games I just... make them. It becomes what it becomes from my lifetime of playing games.

I guess I'm simple-minded. I shouldn't be trying to shit on this thread as I'm not really into the discussion to begin with, I guess.  Tongue
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Super-Dot
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« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2009, 08:33:56 PM »

How about we have deep, meaningful discussions about game design without arbitrarily restricting vocabulary? I think omitting "fun" is more of an end than a means. If we talk about games on a deep enough level, I think we'll end up refraining from using "fun" anyway because it doesn't contribute much to the conversation. It's a useful word when discussing things generally, a less useful word when discussing things more specifically (sometimes (maybe)).
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Kelsey Higham, student at SJSU
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« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2009, 09:04:13 PM »

So wait, I'm still confused. What are you dudes trying to do with the word fun and why does it matter? If you're looking for another word to use in lieu of "fun" you're not gonna find one. Given that a ton of words in the English language can be interpreted in any number of ways, and that none of the words that can't are broad enough to define what you're trying to define, anything you come up with will be just as ambiguous as "fun." Maybe something from a different language?
Or are you just saying that games don't need to be fun? If that's the case then why all the talk about words and their meanings and all that jazz? And agj, when you say "All I'm saying is that we need to understand the games we make, and the word 'fun' does not help us do that," how does it not help?

rant.

And I still don't get why it matters.
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Biggerfish
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« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2009, 10:49:24 PM »

Rather than asking "Why did you find it fun?" a better question would be "What did you enjoy?".

I wouldn't be able to tell you why I find things fun moreso than I can tell you what my favourite colour is. Of course, I can tell you what things I had fun doing, etc.

Also, I interpret this thread to be about getting more detailed feedback from people other than "I like it!" or "It was fun!" and put it all to good use. While I personally don't make games I don't think that "fun" is something you can really analyse, it would be much more effective to go by feedback from others and more importantly, feedback from yourself. If you find it fun, then there will probably be others out there that find it fun as well. People are similar on a lot of levels.
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J.G. Martins
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« Reply #37 on: January 08, 2009, 05:57:25 AM »

I think mostly everyone is missing the point.

First of all, this is about game designers. A game designer should have a deeper understanding of gaming principles than the general gamer. If a game designer simply says his game his fun, he won't be very credible, will he?

Yes, I am going to talk about Spore, independently of my opinions on it. When Will Wright was presenting his game, he didn't say "hey, Spore is fun, everyone buy it", he showed his mechanics, and he EXPLAINED why he thought it was fun. He told everybody what you could do, and why he decided what the possibilities should be what they were. That's what being a game designer is, in my opinion.

It's pretty bleedin' obvious a game needs to be fun, eesh. That's, again, OBVIOUSLY not the point. The point is that the game designer should be able to describe his game from a totally different perspective than the average gamer (who are allowed to say "that game is fun, NARF Durr...?), and add to and compose his game in such a way that he believes will make the game fun.

I totally agree with agj on this Smiley
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KniteBlargh
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« Reply #38 on: January 08, 2009, 06:27:09 AM »

I could be completely wrong, but shouldn't this thread be on the General board instead of Art and Design?

What if there really isn't much to say about a game in the first place? The two games I'm developing are stupid, and that's probably what I'll say, because it's pretty much the truth. "Greetings. This game is stupid." Most people that will download them will probably only download them because they want to see how stupid they are even though I won't mention what makes them stupid. I think using the word fun would make more sense than awesomesaucer or however you spell it. I mean, at least it's a real word.

If anyone wants to think that I'm still missing the point, don't waste your finger energy on replying to this post. I've already wasted MY finger energy on this post! Hand Shake LeftOutragedHand Shake Right
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Zaratustra
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« Reply #39 on: January 08, 2009, 08:01:26 AM »

 Roll Eyes

OK I'm going to try this one last time.

jesus people he's not saying you can't call a game fun or that you should replace all instances of the word 'fun' with 'qxerbadleedle' or whatever daft concept you're coming up after reading the topic title and like three words of the article.

The point, rather radically made I may add, is that there's no point for a game design to think of 'fun' as a quality one can simply inject into the game as the aforementioned Magical Fun Jelly. Making games fun is a complex process which you seem unwilling to discuss, instead demolishing the whole exercise as useless or flying platitudes in the air like so many kites that cannot be cut down by an opposing argument because they have no solidity in the first place.

Quote
My school of thought is that if you know good design, it'll come to you naturally and subconsciously.

Do you think anyone knows good game design? Perhaps Shiggy has the magical touch that makes everything he touch turn into a pile of gold, but from what I see, most developers have an inexplicable sequence of alternating successes and failures even they can't understand why. The Sonic Team hit a wall named 3D and never quite recovered. John Romero thought he was pretty clever, made you his bitch, and down he went. Will Wright has had as many flaming failures as shining successes. Game design is a crapshoot, and while you can't ensure a game's success, it's important to know as much as you can to give your baby the best chance as you hurl it into the bear cave.
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