On: Why We Play Games

Hello Everyone! I'm fairly new around here and this is my first post in TAYClassic, but for a while I've had this urge to start a series or blog that offers my personal perspective on topics related to games and their design. You see, a lot of the time I find that I have a lot to say on a given subject, but the people around me don't quite have the interest or the time to hear me out. And so I am here, in this wonderful community that I have only heard good things of, to talk about why I love games!

Or rather, I'd like to talk about why all of us love games; if you ask someone why they want to play a game, odds are they'll reply the "like it," "want to play with friends," or maybe " are bored and just want to pass the time." They may point to specific mechanics in a game that engage them, or they might even just give you a puzzled look and ask, "Why not?" And while these answers are numerous, almost all of them can simply be boiled down to "It is fun."

So what exactly is fun? As a young game designer myself, this question is especially critical; it is my job to craft experiences that create fun, so it makes sense that I should understand it. It should be a simple question: everyone knows what fun is, right? But ask someone to put it into words and you get something like this:

Fun: n. enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.

Enjoy: v. to take delight or pleasure in a fun activity

For some reason that doesn't seem particularly helpful. So how do we really measure and define fun then? The answer is to break it down into different types. The benefits of such an approach is that it makes it very easy to get in there and analyze a game based on how it engages players, and to compare it with other games. Because different people have different ideas of what they think is fun, you can rate them on how much they engage with one type over another. However, the problem with this method is that, with so many different ways we have of engaging with games, it is incredibly difficult to agree on one set of types. Commonly accepted types include Challenge, Exploration/Discovery, Social/Cooperative, Creative Expression. Other types are Competition, which many debate whether or not it stands separate from Challenge, Fantasy/Escapism, Abnegation (which has been proposed as a simple or casual, passive form of engagement or relaxation,) among many others.

Personally, I rate high on playing with people, being faced with challenges, and going places and doing things not possible in the real world. I'd love to know what the people of TAY think about fun! What are your personal reasons for enjoying games? How would you describe fun? I hope you enjoyed this little ramble of mine. I'd like to post more like it in the future!