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Author Topic: Displacing 'fun' from the game designer's lexicon  (Read 20601 times)
agj
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« Reply #80 on: January 09, 2009, 11:44:17 AM »

So I favor figuring out whether a game is fun or not, through playtesting. If you let 20 people try out the game and 19 find it fun, yay. If none of them do, you have a problem. If only three of the those 20 do, you probably have a problem but it could also work as a very niche game.

I bet that your playtesters are mostly male and mostly in the 17 to 30 year range, users of computers and other technological devices, videogame players, and from the US. If this is true, then it is not hard at all to find things that most of them will find fun, as they share the same kinds of interests. I'm just pointing out here that tastes vary a lot more than you seem to realize. Also, catering to mass appeal only leads to increasingly similar games.

Fun can refer to aesthetics like graphics and music. Fun can refer to tension and drama. "Fun", "Engaging", "Exciting", "Tense", "Dramatic", they all mean the same thing. Fun doesn't just mean shootin' dudes.

You just stumbled upon the reason I made this thread!
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Valter
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« Reply #81 on: January 09, 2009, 11:51:17 AM »

I bet that your playtesters are mostly male and mostly in the 17 to 30 year range, users of computers and other technological devices, videogame players, and from the US. If this is true, then it is not hard at all to find things that most of them will find fun, as they share the same kinds of interests. I'm just pointing out here that tastes vary a lot more than you seem to realize. Also, catering to mass appeal only leads to increasingly similar games.
I bet 90% of all gamers fit into that category.

Fun can refer to aesthetics like graphics and music. Fun can refer to tension and drama. "Fun", "Engaging", "Exciting", "Tense", "Dramatic", they all mean the same thing. Fun doesn't just mean shootin' dudes.
You just stumbled upon the reason I made this thread!
All those words I used are equally vague as "Fun". Just as you said that fun doesn't describe why a game is good, none of those other words describe why a game should be labeled thusly. You would really rather just get rid of "fun" in favor of people just hitting the thesaurus for equally vapid terms?
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Gnarf
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« Reply #82 on: January 09, 2009, 03:38:24 PM »

You limit yourself by believing that fun is the only part of a game. You would equally limit yourself by deciding that games can be made without any elements of fun.

No. That games must have "elements of fun" is a limitation. Deciding that games can be made without any elements of fun is just getting rid of that limitation. Without the limitation you allow for games that are fun and games that are not fun, while with the limitation you allow for only one of those two categories. That's how limitations work. It might be a good limitation to have or whatever, but calling the lack of a limitation a limitation is ridiculous.

Gnarf: Some games are good. Some games are bad. Thusly, your argument is false. Some things are more fun than others.

What I was responding to was: "You're still going on about how everybody has totally different opinions, and someone's going to like something even if you don't. But that's not even a little bit true."

I've given examples of things someone's liking even though I don't and things I like even though others don't. That contradicts what you said. What you seem to say now is that my argument is false because it doesn't fit the conclusion you've jumped to.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #83 on: January 09, 2009, 06:22:36 PM »

So I favor figuring out whether a game is fun or not, through playtesting. If you let 20 people try out the game and 19 find it fun, yay. If none of them do, you have a problem. If only three of the those 20 do, you probably have a problem but it could also work as a very niche game.

I bet that your playtesters are mostly male and mostly in the 17 to 30 year range, users of computers and other technological devices, videogame players, and from the US. If this is true, then it is not hard at all to find things that most of them will find fun, as they share the same kinds of interests. I'm just pointing out here that tastes vary a lot more than you seem to realize. Also, catering to mass appeal only leads to increasingly similar games.

You'd lose that bet -- see my playtesting tutorial thread for why I specifically think it's a bad idea to limit yourself to one particular group like that. Besides, I hate most 17-30 year old males and if there's anybody I wouldn't want playing my games it's that group (even though I'm in that group myself, barely, being a 30 year old male).

And trying to make a game fun for people is not catering to a mass appeal. The only alternative is not to use others to determine what parts of your game are fun or not, which leads to some pretty horrible games in practice.

It's also kind of contradictory to say that it's a bad idea to limit yourself to only a particular type of playtester and to simultaneously say that it's a bad idea to try to make your game fun for "the average man" or whatever. I mean, which is it, what are you saying -- is it bad to appeal to the average (in which case using a select group that isn't representative of the average would be okay), or is it bad to use a select group because it wouldn't be representative of that average?
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agj
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« Reply #84 on: January 09, 2009, 07:21:52 PM »

I bet that your playtesters are mostly in [group]

You'd lose that bet

Then I congratulate you, that's a very good thing.

And trying to make a game fun for people is not catering to a mass appeal. The only alternative is not to use others to determine what parts of your game are fun or not, which leads to some pretty horrible games in practice.

Nope, another alternative is to choose a subset of the total population: a target demographic.

It's also kind of contradictory to say that it's a bad idea to limit yourself to only a particular type of playtester and to simultaneously say that it's a bad idea to try to make your game fun for "the average man" or whatever.

Nah, it was just two different points. First I said that your group was potentially very slim, thus that 'fun' was more diverse than you believed. Then I said that trying to make a game that pleases everyone tends to homogenize games. See point above about target demographics.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #85 on: January 09, 2009, 07:29:22 PM »

I don't think it necessarily tends to homogenize games actually. I think that homogenization is more a symptom of marketing and copying last year's successes than it is a symptom of actually figuring out what people are find fun. I think we get sequel-itis more because of marketing, not because of playtesting.

Anyway, I'm not against catering a game to a specific subset either. That can be valid too. Strategy games tend to be geared toward smarter, more cognitive folk. Text adventure games tend to be targeted toward people who are more well-read than average. And that's fine. But I do think that, below that, there are basic things that anybody finds fun. Things like Tetris: most people find it fun, it doesn't matter what age bracket or other category they're in, most people who try it out enjoy Tetris. I'm not saying you have to target those broad things more than the niche things, just that you can and it's fine to do so, and it doesn't amount to catering the game for mediocrity. Just because something can be enjoyed by most everyone doesn't mean it's bad.
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« Reply #86 on: January 09, 2009, 07:36:19 PM »

Another thing is this: and this is important: not enjoying a game does not necessarily mean that that person could not enjoy that game. Often things get in the way of a person having fun with a game, through no fault of the game's own and through no fault of that person. A good example is how some FPS games make some people (such as myself to an extent) dizzy/nauseous. They'd likely enjoy that genre if they could play it without that effect.

So I don't think it's how fun works that varies between people, it's other factors, some of which get in the way of fun. It's not a matter of fun being subjective, it's a matter of fun being contextual, which isn't the same thing.
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Gnarf
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« Reply #87 on: January 10, 2009, 03:02:42 AM »

It's not a matter of fun being subjective, it's a matter of fun being contextual, which isn't the same thing.

I think the idea is that the player is the subject (of the experience of playing the game). So if what player it is is what makes a difference in how fun it is, then yes, that is subjective. For example, dizziness in an FPS game is subjective. I suppose you can say that the player is part of the context and call it contextual (as well or instead), but so what?
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Biggerfish
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« Reply #88 on: January 10, 2009, 05:24:56 AM »

Gnarf: Some games are good. Some games are bad. Thusly, your argument is false. Some things are more fun than others.
Some games are seen as good by the majority, some games are seen as bad by the majority. Even though I am one for fun being subjective I don't disagree that many people share the same traits, leading to commonly accepted definitions of 'good' and 'bad', etc. I don't doubt that I would disagree with you that ET is a bad game, it is just that I think it stupid to seriously say that nobody will ever enjoy the game. The point I was trying to make is that the quality of the product is not in the product itself but in the perception of the product by the person, hence there being no universal "good/bad" scale. This is pretty irrelevant now though, so I'm not going to say any more after this.

A fancy spoon could make food taste better, sure -- there's a lot of psychology that goes on there. When I eat with a silver spoon I especially enjoy the meal. I definitely don't think the game is like the food, because I can have fun without games, but I can't eat without food.
While I don't disagree with you, I think of games more as food because there are types of food that the majority of people like (fruit, say), and there are foods that some people enjoy and others don't (chilli, for example), and there is food that a very small amount of people enjoy (haggis, for example's sake). The spoon is like the interface between the game and the player, the game can be enhanced or detracted from by how I can interact with it. I may really enjoy soup, but I'm not going to enjoy it as much if I have to eat it with chopsticks.

That is, if all you can do is eat the food and nobody takes it away from you.
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Valter
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« Reply #89 on: January 10, 2009, 09:30:44 AM »

You limit yourself by believing that fun is the only part of a game. You would equally limit yourself by deciding that games can be made without any elements of fun.

No. That games must have "elements of fun" is a limitation. Deciding that games can be made without any elements of fun is just getting rid of that limitation. Without the limitation you allow for games that are fun and games that are not fun, while with the limitation you allow for only one of those two categories. That's how limitations work. It might be a good limitation to have or whatever, but calling the lack of a limitation a limitation is ridiculous.
I suppose this is still a problem of subjectivism. You think you could enjoy a game with no elements of fun, and I don't. My greatest trouble with this is that "fun" to me seems just as necessary as visuals in a TV show. It's one of the components, and without it, I don't think any video game could last very long.

And the biggest problem, to me, is that you're trying to say that a game with a moral objective could be more enjoyable than the same game only more exciting.  How about a game in which you kill children to grow more powerful? Do you think that that technique by itself would be enjoyable or memorable? Bioshock used that mechanic, but it also laced in creepy visuals, complex gameplay, a gripping story, and eerie music. Nothing, by itself, can accomplish much.

Besides, wouldn't it be more effective to include fun in moral video games? If a person were to play a boring video game about killing children, he would finish up and say "Well, of course I wouldn't do that!" But if he were to play Bioshock, and actually take enjoyment out of seeking out and killing children, he would be more likely to think about what he had done later on. Adding fun to a gruesome encounter would give more reason for people to think about why they would enjoy ripping apart an innocent.

That's why I think that morality and enjoyment should go hand-in-hand. They compliment each other, and make each part more effective.
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Gnarf
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« Reply #90 on: January 10, 2009, 05:35:57 PM »

I suppose this is still a problem of subjectivism. You think you could enjoy a game with no elements of fun, and I don't. My greatest trouble with this is that "fun" to me seems just as necessary as visuals in a TV show. It's one of the components, and without it, I don't think any video game could last very long.

And the biggest problem, to me, is that you're trying to say that a game with a moral objective could be more enjoyable than the same game only more exciting.  How about a game in which you kill children to grow more powerful? Do you think that that technique by itself would be enjoyable or memorable? Bioshock used that mechanic, but it also laced in creepy visuals, complex gameplay, a gripping story, and eerie music. Nothing, by itself, can accomplish much.

You're way off about what I was trying to say. I just explained what a limitation was. I didn't say that any one thing is better or more enjoyable than any other thing or that any thing could or couldn't be enjoyed.

Whether or not you can enjoy something that is not fun just comes down to what you mean by the two words. I pretty much always mean something more precise by "fun" than I mean by "enjoyable". For example I wouldn't call sleeping fun, but it is something I enjoy. I guess I would say that all fun experiences is a subset of all enjoyable experiences -- I do enjoy all fun things but I don't find all enjoyable things fun. If you use the two words interchangeably, then it pretty much follows that nothing can be enjoying without being fun. Not a big deal.

That's why I think that morality and enjoyment should go hand-in-hand. They compliment each other, and make each part more effective.

If you need to add "enjoyment" to morality in order to enjoy it, that just means that you don't enjoy the morality. If you enjoy the morality there's obviously no need to add "enjoyment" to it in order to make it enjoying.
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« Reply #91 on: January 10, 2009, 05:40:21 PM »

If you are enjoying morality, then there is already fun in the game. Boring morality is boring, and exciting morality is exciting. Not much more to it than that. Cool
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Gnarf
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« Reply #92 on: January 11, 2009, 03:37:29 AM »

I can't really tell if you're agreeing with what I said or not there. My point was that if it is the morality that you find fun, then there's no need for it to hold hands with some other "element of fun" or whatever in order to make it fun for you. It is your element of fun.

Stuff like this is nonsense:

Adding fun to a gruesome encounter would give more reason for people to think about why they would enjoy ripping apart an innocent.

You're not talking about morality in general, you're just talking about a very specific moral issue that can most easily be presented in a game by including some enjoyable activity. That you can't make the players think about why they would enjoy something without making that something enjoyable doesn't relate to the point you're trying to make. For example I don't think "why would I enjoy ripping apart an innocent" is an interesting moral issue, no matter how much fun you make the ripping apart innocents bit. And even if it somehow made a difference to me, it still wouldn't apply to completely different moral issues such as "would I kill innocents for no apparent reason?" or "why do I not enjoy being nice to people?"

Like, if you want the player to think about why he doesn't enjoy being nice to people you shouldn't go "Oh! Morality and enjoyment should go hand-in-hand, so I need to add elements of fun, making being nice to people an enjoyable activity."
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Valter
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« Reply #93 on: January 11, 2009, 07:23:52 AM »

No game should target a small niche. Games should strive to appeal to more than just a certain collective of people. Bioshock was about moral issues, but it appealed to more than just people who like moral issues. So should all games. You shouldn't just make a game that only people who like moral issues would like. If you add some excitement to it, you're hardly going to drive away the morality-fans, but you're more likely to interest outside sources.
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« Reply #94 on: January 11, 2009, 07:33:33 AM »

The fact is, no matter how morality-focused or story-driven they can be, video games are still games. Being fun is pretty much in the definition.
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Gnarf
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« Reply #95 on: January 11, 2009, 10:02:12 AM »

No game should target a small niche. Games should strive to appeal to more than just a certain collective of people. Bioshock was about moral issues, but it appealed to more than just people who like moral issues. So should all games. You shouldn't just make a game that only people who like moral issues would like. If you add some excitement to it, you're hardly going to drive away the morality-fans, but you're more likely to interest outside sources.

Are you responding to what I posted? If so, I haven't said anything about what anyone should or should not do, so you're way off.

(Though, for what it's worth, you're making something that appeals to just a certain collective of people by making a game.)

The fact is, no matter how morality-focused or story-driven they can be, video games are still games. Being fun is pretty much in the definition.

If it is in the definition then it is not a game if it is not fun. I'd be surprised if that is what you mean (i.e. if you don't think there are any games in existence that are not fun). I'd say being fun or enjoyable or some such tends to be part of their purpose though.
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« Reply #96 on: January 11, 2009, 10:38:39 AM »

No game should target a small niche. Games should strive to appeal to more than just a certain collective of people. Bioshock was about moral issues, but it appealed to more than just people who like moral issues. So should all games. You shouldn't just make a game that only people who like moral issues would like. If you add some excitement to it, you're hardly going to drive away the morality-fans, but you're more likely to interest outside sources.

Are you responding to what I posted? If so, I haven't said anything about what anyone should or should not do, so you're way off.
Well, you were talking about how morality games would only appeal to people who like morality games anyway. I was saying that morality games don't have to just appeal to people who like morality games. They could appeal to many more people, if they just add in some interesting bits.

(Though, for what it's worth, you're making something that appeals to just a certain collective of people by making a game.)
Uh, there's a reason Wii Sports is now the #1 selling video game ever now. Nintendo realized that they could appeal to more than just the 20% of people on earth who play video games. And their broader appeal worked, and now there's a Wii in every fucking home anywhere. See how broader appeal helps?
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« Reply #97 on: January 11, 2009, 11:42:25 AM »

this thread isn't fun
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Gnarf
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« Reply #98 on: January 11, 2009, 11:49:35 AM »

Well, you were talking about how morality games would only appeal to people who like morality games anyway. I was saying that morality games don't have to just appeal to people who like morality games. They could appeal to many more people, if they just add in some interesting bits.

You said that they should do that. If the point was that some games can have broader appeal than games that focus only on morality then sure, I'm not arguing against that. I'm sure strategy games can appeal to many more people by adding non-strategy bits as well, but I wouldn't really give a shit about that if what I was interested in was playing or creating a strategy game.

Uh, there's a reason Wii Sports is now the #1 selling video game ever now. Nintendo realized that they could appeal to more than just the 20% of people on earth who play video games. And their broader appeal worked, and now there's a Wii in every fucking home anywhere. See how broader appeal helps?

Helps doing what?
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The-Imp
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« Reply #99 on: January 11, 2009, 11:52:08 AM »

Well, you were talking about how morality games would only appeal to people who like morality games anyway. I was saying that morality games don't have to just appeal to people who like morality games. They could appeal to many more people, if they just add in some interesting bits.

You said that they should do that. If the point was that some games can have broader appeal than games that focus only on morality then sure, I'm not arguing against that. I'm sure strategy games can appeal to many more people by adding non-strategy bits as well, but I wouldn't really give a shit about that if what I was interested in was playing or creating a strategy game.

Uh, there's a reason Wii Sports is now the #1 selling video game ever now. Nintendo realized that they could appeal to more than just the 20% of people on earth who play video games. And their broader appeal worked, and now there's a Wii in every fucking home anywhere. See how broader appeal helps?

Helps doing what?
It helps sell more.

As long as Nintendo can make some interesting gimmick, such as a touch screen or motion sensitivity, their systems will sell well.

People these days are interested in something simple, basically meaning for the Wii, not much button pressing, or combination remembering.
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