Sunday, 3 October 2010

Types of Fun

Since “fun” is the popular term in the industry, I will use it, but the exact meaning of the word for this article is:
FUN - specific experience that causes chemical reactions in the brain that are interpreted as valuable / positive.

The goal of this actable is to present a table that lists all types of “funs”, but also accepts that “Fun” is synonymous to “Genre” or “Interaction Type”. It can be used to differentiate types of:
-         Funs
-         Genres
-         Gamers, target audiences

The table shows the 16 combinations of these 4 dichotomies:

  • Using already gained knowledge to achieve goals / victories VS Learning and exploring
  • Interest in others VS Interest in the inanimate world
  • Emotional, physical (more animalistic) decision making VS intellectual, rational, deep long term decision making
  • Symbiotic attitude (we both win, if we do this) VS Parasitic attitude (my gain is you loss)

All of them have evolutionary benefits, so it is expected for an organism to find them rewarding (a.k.a. fun, entertaining, interesting, beneficial)


Zoom picture for details

  • The borders are used just to define categories, but those categories are not discrete but fuzzy – they can be merged and combined at will
  • If an interaction occupies more than one cell, it has instances in all of the respective cells.
  • The list of interactions is not full, of course. This table just showcases the 16 categories themselves.


Football = cooperation fun + competition fun + motion fun + time / distance / ball management fun

Chess = intellectual thinking in perspective fun + competitive fun + resource management fun

Car Racing games = motion fun + time / risk management fun

Lego blocks constructors = intellectual exploration fun, combinatorial fun

Barbie dolls = social exploration fun


1- “Longevity” Fun

I once read an article that divided all rewarding experiences in 2 categories:
Fun – intense but brief physical pleasure (relation to dopamine)
Happiness – less intense, but long-term satisfaction and confidence (possible relation to serotonin)
In our case – intellectual funs, learning funs, socials fun, moral funs, all have the tendencies to be longer lasting but weaker, but not always.

To affect the balance in satisfaction distribution in time, make interactions with consequences affecting the game world for a longer period of time.

2 - Autonomy Fun = freedom, non-linearity, control
To increase this fun, provide more available interaction types for the player to choose from at the same time.

3 - “Importance of the self” Fun = “learning about the self”, “why I am important”, “what are my unique talents or problems”. I haven’t modeled this as it is impossible to examine the self in complete isolation, but it is an important fun, as well.

4 – “Usefulness” Fun = how useful/applicable the knowledge and skills from the game will be for my real life. This is why we generally prefer human stories compared to subjects we perceive to have nothing to do with us.