Theory of Fun


I’ve just read Mr. Incredibly Gifted Raph Koster’s book Theory of Fun for Game Design. He really does have a gift to combine his academic background with the practicalities of design. The book also explained very clearly to me what the ludologists are on about it (yes….I’m slow). He says that games are not stories, rather, games are about finding the pattern hidden behind the story. Koster is excellent at using Chess and Checkers as examples throughout the book, like here…what does the story have to do with these two games? Is there any narratological value that you’re playing the queen in so and so move? Very relevant point and extremely correct, although with the development of games like Fahrenheit, the story is becoming more and more relevant. So seeing the relevance of the two arguments I would like to suggest that this dilemma can just be solved by the acknowledgment that there are games that are independent of story and games that are dependent of stories. I know it seems ridiculously simple and I’ll probably change my mind as soon as I post this, but wouldn’t that be a solution? Of course it brings with it a whirlwind of trouble when chategorising the two…but this has to make sense somehow.
The book is a must for anyone studying games…he’s got so many good points you literally sit there with a lightbulb blinking constantly…enough to make me dizzy. The layout is genius as well.
He proposes that the fun in games is the learning process. And with a few exceptions I tend to agree. But I think I’m gonna have to dwell on it a little bit more before I really analyse this argument (yes dearest Mr. Patient and Sweet Advisor, I know the clock is ticking).
Sorry…I just utterly confused myself again and I need to take a closer look at the book! I really need to sort out these rambling thoughts in my head!
Main point however, buy this book!!!!! Raph Koster is smart and he definately knows how to articulate his ideas and knowledge, best book I’ve read on the subject (I still have a few to go though)!!

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5 thoughts on “Theory of Fun

  1. Eep, where did I say that games are not a medium? Because I definitely don’t think that. Of course games are a medium.-RaphPS, glad you liked the book.

  2. Page 142 “‘Game’ is not a medium, even though I have misused it that way on almost every page of this book. It is depending on the definition, one use of a medium.” Where you then ofcourse go on to prove that they very much are a medium…which I suppose I tried to say with the second half of my sentence “…and yet they are”, but apperantly very unsuccessfully. So again I’m introduced to another danger of blogging, misquoting excellent authors! But thanks for pointing this out, will ofcourse repair! And I’m so sorry!

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  5. Ah, I see. :)In the first instance, I am saying that “game” is one USE of “formal abstract systems,” and that the latter is really what the medium is, since things like interactive simulations of all sorts are technically the same thing.In the second instance, I’m reverting back to calling the medium “game” for convenience. :) But I suspect we’re actually in agreement overall.

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