Research into fun and gameplay

This morning I have took a step back from designing and researched into fun and gameplay. I found a book which was really interesting called “A theory of fun for game design” by Raph Koster. I have had a read through it and taken excerpts and points from it which are relevant to my project to help me brainstorm. This is to make sure the game I end up creating for my final major is fun which should be the biggest element to it.


Games need to exercise the brain and ones that fail to do that are boring. Practising a game keeps it fresh for a while but once you ‘get it’ you move on and get bored. “The more formally constructed your game is, the more limited it will be.” Integrating more variables, less predictable ones keeps a game fresh. There is no longer an element of surprise to the game once you have worked everything out. This is something I am going to take on board and I think that my QR code idea for the head/heart cards in my current board games fits into this by upgrading the game to bring in new elements.

It has also made me think about my board game having more than one route around the game, dependent on paths you take different things could happen to your ‘character.’ If I am going to keep the theme of life through the game this fits perfectly as life is random and down to chance sometimes, you don’t necessarily choose what happens to you.

There was some interesting information on gender too within the book –

  • “On average, females tend to have trouble with certain types of spatial perception – for example, visualising cross section of arbitrary shape that has been rotated to different facing. Conversely, males tend to have greater trouble with language skills – doctors have long known that it takes longer for boys to become verbally proficient.”
  • “If women who have trouble with spatial rotation tests are given a video game that encourages them to practise rotating objects and matching particular configurations in 3D, not only will they master the spatial perception necessary, but the results will be permanent.”
  • “Research was announced showing that girls who play “boys’ games” such as sports tend to break out of traditional gender roles years later, whereas girls who stick to “girls’ games” tend to adhere to the traditional stereotypes more strictly.”
  • “If people are to achieve their maximum potential, they need to do the hard work of playing the games they don’t get, the games that don’t appeal to their natures… counterbalancing the brains that they were born with. The result would be people who move freely between worldviews, who bring a wider array of skills to bear on a given problem.”
  • “Training boys up, is harder for games to achieve… games are limited because of their fundamentally mathematical nature is somewhat depressing; it hasn’t stopped music from being a highly emotional medium, and language manages to convey mathematical thoughts, so there is hope for games yet.”
  • “There are people who have high abilities in both systemizing and empathising brains.”

All this show that games can potentially change how a boy/girls brain can develop through play. If my game can teach children to take on both stereotypical male and female traits in a fun way then they could become more well-rounded individuals. Ultimately this is what I want my board game to achieve.

“Fun is about learning in context where there is no pressure and that is why games matter.”