What Does Game Design Teach Us About Fun?



Let’s have some fun!

But what is fun?

What do we know about fun?

We know we like it.  We know we’d like more of it.

But what is fun, really?

To each his own, right?  Well, maybe, but there are some common elements.

Games teach us a lot about fun.

Professor Kevin Werbach teaches gamification.   He knows a lot about how to bring the use of game elements and game techniques to non-game contexts.

Fun doesn’t just happen in a game ….

  • It needs to be designed.
  • Fun can be challenging, it can be hard, it can be serious.
  • A great game appeals to difference kinds of fun.

The fun factor makes games engaging — it’s the emotional experience.

But, what is fun?

Here are the elements of fun according to Professor Kevin Werbach:

  1. winning
  2. problem solving
  3. exploring
  4. chilling – lying on a beautiful beach
  5. teamwork – collaborating and cooperating
  6. recognition – someone else telling you you did a good job
  7. triumphing – similar to winning, you win and some loses.
  8. collecting – bringing things into collections (e.g. coins. in games), you can assemble a collection of things
  9. surprise – something you did not expect
  10. imagination – day-dreaming or creating with the mind
  11. sharing – altruism
  12. role playing – pretending we’re someone else
  13. customization – fun to choose your colors, design your own thing
  14. goofing off – letting it all hang out and just be silly

Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 keys to fun

  1. easy fun – blowing off steam, chilling out, casual
  2. hard fun – problem solving, overcoming obstacles
  3. people fun – fun of interacting with others.
  4. serious fun – has meaning to you, such as collections, badges.

Marc LeBlanc 8 kinds of fun

  1. sensation
  2. fantasy
  3. narrative
  4. challenge
  5. fellowship
  6. discovery
  7. expression
  8. submission

Fun Theory is a website exploring how fun and gamification can make the world a better place.

So if you want to get your fun on, but don’t know where to find it, try exploring the different elements of fun and the different types of fun.

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

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Image by Lin Pernille Photography.


    • I never realized how many aspects there are to fun.

      It’s a real eye-opener.

      Learning more about fun … is fun.

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