1. Koster, R. (2004). A theory of fun for game design: What games aren't. Gamasutra, December 3.
2. Gee, J. P. (2004). Learning by design: Games as learning machines. Gamasutra, March, 24
3. Garneau, P-A. (2001). Fourteen Forms of Fun. Gamasutra, October 12.
4. Prensky, M. (2001). Fun, Play and Games: What Makes Games Engaging. Chapter 5 in Digital Game Based Learning. NY: McGraw Hill. (From the author's website)
5. Falstein, N. (2004). Natural funativity. Gamasutra, November 10.
Koster, R. (2004).
Kowster 's article is not colorful as the other pieces. He focused on a limited model of game: superficial graphical pattern vs. abstract logic underneath. In his discussion, fun is an important element of games. But he did not really develop fun and game in a harmonious pattern to help readers understand his points. To Koster, fun is an abstract that is hard to be defined, and fun is a phenomenon. He kind of discussed that fun is contextual. It will happen when several elements get in the right place: right time, attitude, engagement, etc. He also discussed that fun is a result of evolutionary process. However, his ideas about fun were spreaded widely but only circling around the periphery of the issue. What is fun is not clear in the first place in the article. I think this is actually the bottom line of this article without which it is hard to understand the author's stand.
Gee, J. P. (2004).
It is a fact that many individuals keep purchasing new video games. this article was trying to understand the question how do good game designers manage to get new players to learn long, complex, and difficult games? On one hand, some good games seem to be designed only for adept gamers. This is an explanation only helps us see a certain part of all gamers, old and new. On the other hand, the answer could be good games' designers applied profoundly good methods of getting people to learn and to enjoy learning. The author argued that under the right conditions, learning is biologically motivating and pleasurable for humans. Then, the author applied a list of good principles of learning that have been built into good games (computer and video) to explain, with examples of real video games, the practice of learning in games. In the end, the author discussed his observation that very few educational games apply the principles of learning. On the contrary, non-educational games for the young are using many good principles. This debate is worth to be extended to the administrators and researchers.
Garneau, P-A. (2001).
The goal of this article is to make a complete list of entertaining activities, forms of fun, at present in order to provide a tool kit for game designers. Garneau suggested that effective game design is the result of mixed forms. But combination of too many of these forms may do the opposite. It is a matter of balance. I tried to classify these fourteen forms of fun using the categories proposed by Falstein. Physical fun: Physical Activity, Competition, Application of an Ability, Immersion; Social fun: Love, Social Interaction, Comedy(?), Power; Mental fun/psychological fun: Immersion, Intellectual Problem Solving, Thrill of Danger, Creation, Advancement and Completion, Beauty, Discovery, Competition. There are a couple of forms classified repeatedly into different categories.
- Beauty: That which pleases the senses
- Immersion: Going into an environment different from one's usual environment by physical means or by use of one's imagination
- Intellectual Problem Solving: Finding solutions to problematic situations that require thought
- Competition: An activity where the goal is to show one's superiority
- Social Interaction: Doing things with other human beings
- Comedy: Things that make one want to laugh
- Thrill of Danger: Exhilaration coming from a dangerous activity
- Physical Activity: Activities requiring intense physical movements
- Love: Strong affection toward somebody
- Creation: To make exist that which didn't
- Power: Capacity of having a strong effect, of acting with strength
- Discovery: Finding something that wasn't known before
- Advancement and Completion: Going forward in, and eventually finishing, an activity
- Application of an Ability: Using one's physical abilities in a difficult setting
Prensky, M. (2001).
Like Garneau, Prensky also developed a list of elements that make video games engaging.
- Games are a form of fun. That gives us enjoyment and pleasure.
- Games are form of play. That gives us intense and passionate involvement.
- Games have rules. That gives us structure.
- Games have goals. That gives us motivation.
- Games are interactive. That gives us doing.
- Games are adaptive. That gives us flow.
- Games have outcomes and feedback. That gives us learning.
- Games have win states. That gives us ego gratification.
- Games have conflict/competition/challenge/opposition. That gives us adrenaline.
- Games have problem solving. That sparks our creativity.
- Games have interaction. That gives us social groups.
- Games have representation and story. That gives us emotion.
In addition to this list he pushed further to relate the observation with learning and work. Like most of the articles for this week, Prensky focused on fun and play. He defined fun as the great motivator. The role of fun in the learning process is to create relaxation and motivation. Relaxation enables a learner to take things in more easily, and motivation enables them to put forth effort without resentment. He argued play as the universal teacher. Work and play are always overlapping with each other. Learning (children): similar to Falstein, Prensky applied the evolutionary view in understanding play. "Play is our brain's favorite way of learning things". Work (adult): more play will improve our learning and performance; making work playful reduces stress, and actually increases productivity.
How to transfer the abstract fun and play into actual experience through digital games is the central focus of this article. Prensky proposed six structural elements of games based on which the games can be engaging. Rules: are what differentiate games from other kinds of play; Goals or Objectives: differentiate games from other types of play, as well as from other non-goal-oriented games; Outcomes and Feedback: are how you measure your progress against the goals; Conflict/competition/challenge/opposition: are the problems in a game you are trying to solve; Interaction: interaction of the player and the computer vs interaction with other people (inherently social aspect). Representation: means the game is about something.
For the rest of this chapter, Prensky touched on wide topics on digital games comprehensively. He discussed different forms of interactivities (toys, narrative stories, and tools), talked about categories of games (Action Games, Adventure Games, Fighting Games, Puzzle games, Role Playing Games, Simulation Games, Sports Games Strategy), listed principles of good computer game designs (balance, creation, focus, character, tension, and energy). Then he discussed aspects that are affecting engagement of digital games (the rationale for this part is still to help designers for good game design): culture, age, gender, violence, language (or genre?).
Falstein, N. (2004).
Palstein saw the question of what makes a game fun as an elusive and subjective one. To answer this question, Falstein took an approach finding the underlying root of humans' fun. He tracked back to ancient time and even earlier to find evidence from human revolution. His point is that all human entertainment, including games, has a central premise of learning about survival and reproduction and the necessary associated social rules and behaviors. This learning is a life-long activity for humans, especially in the "modern fast-changing global culture". He classified humans’ fun into four categories (physical, social, mental, and blended). "By tying game play to these key aspects of hunting, gathering, exploration, social interaction and status, and pattern perception we can capture the interest of large numbers of players and make games more fun". Falstein tied his discussion with applying the fun theory, natural funactivity, into game concepts. Basically, I find this approach of understanding both gamers’ behaviors and game design reasonable and easy to master.
What are the possible reason(s) why more people do not play digital games?
It is necessary to see what kinds of people play games. To talk about gamers, there are people who are addictive to games, including the game fans and people who have video games as the most important entertainment in their life. There are also people who just occasionally play some games just for killing time. As we read and discussed, people play video games for fun. The video games are attractive and challenging. For those online games, gamers may also play for socializing, but not necessary. The population who play games has certain common characteristics. Here I try a couple of them. I do not have evidence to support my argument. My points are developed from my observation. So it might be biased, in which case more discussion might be generated. One characteristic is the majority people in the gamers' population are in young age: children, teenagers, and college students. The other characteristics is that they can afford to play: time (they have plenty of time) and money (sometimes money is not that important since there are many cheap or free games).
However, the fact is there are more people who do not play video games regularly than those who do. People who do not play games regularly do not possess either of the two characteristics mentioned above. These could count for two reasons. The third one, I think, could be people in this camp actually find that real life activities, sports, party, reading, movie, traveling, etc, are much more entertaining and have more fun than video games which is in-door activity and/or require to sit still for a long time, etc.
My questions from the readings and questions for Discussion in class:
1. From readings we can see professions have been thinking deeply about how to generate good concepts for games and design good games. Is there any case study of research testing those elements or principles in designing educational games? What are some limitations?
2. Is there any statistical information of the distribution of the gamers? What are some common features they share, like age, profession, education background, socio-economic status?