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  1. #1
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    Why games can be “not fun”

    Here is a good article why games can be engaging without committing genocide or aka “fun”.

    http://pixeljudge.com/en/articles/im...t-thats-okay-/

    As much as I love shooting doods I actually agree with the author. With that in mind I’m going to shoot some doods :P

  2. #2
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    What struck me most is the release of two games that stretched the definition of what we traditionally consider a “game”
    Stopped reading.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    I think part of the issue is that the author decided that "fun" has to mean "YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAH DUDEBRO GRRRRRRR KILL THAT GUY WITH XENOPHOBIC BULLETS OF PAIN YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!" instead of "amusement". While the term "fun" can denote something lighthearted I think it's still possible to have fun with Dear Esther or something in that you're entertained. It doesn't have to be bright or comedic or happy to be enjoyed.

    Of course I don't consider Dear Esther a game so holding it up as an example of why games don't need to be fun is an absurd conclusion from where I sit, but whatever. Also in some parts the author seems to come to the conclusion that "fun" doesn't have to be a chaingun ripping apart imps but can be derived from other engaging tasks in games (like reading books in Dishonored). Then the article starts to dissolve into an almost-condescending promotion of "art games" which ignores the fact that the current art games aren't very good. Not because a game is a bad medium for it (it isn't, though few of them really needed to be games in the first place) but because they're usually poorly written. At least it didn't come right out and say "If you don't like art games you're a neanderthal" like some similar articles or opinions do.

    All that said, I agree that gaming needs to have more games that aren't just Call of XYZ n+1: Future/Modern Warfare. I like games that make me think or provoke a reaction or have a message. Unfortunately, a lot of the attempts so far have been laughably ham-fisted.

  4. #4
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    Of course games don't need to be fun. We don't have to consider non-games like Dear Esther to tell us that. You could, for instance, have a game that is designed to teach you something. In such a game, it doesn't matter if it is fun but rather that it is less non-fun that any other way of teaching you that something. If someone could make a game that transferred mathematics journals to my brain in a way just slightly less fucking tedious than reading the bastards, I'd be happy with such a game.

    Also, insert obligatory "video games aren't a medium" rant here.

    But yes, the post linked is actually complete tosh, because it has a very narrow and shallow definition of "fun" that nobody playing video games seriously would countenance.
    Last edited by NathanH; 26-01-2013 at 09:18 AM.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NathanH View Post
    Also, insert obligatory "video games aren't a medium" rant here.
    *raises eyebrow*

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    No, no, no. Games designed for education are not a good example of unfun games. In most cases they're made in an attempt to make learning fun. And they usually fail. Lack of fun is a side effect, not a design goal of educational games.
    Last edited by b0rsuk; 27-01-2013 at 10:26 AM.
    pass

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus jnx's Avatar
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    Apparently the author doesn't even know what fun is.
    Read more here (On hold) or on Twitter! Occasional impressions on random sim games.

  8. #8
    Obscure Node DareM's Avatar
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    When I play games, I am very serious. I take it as a job. Otherwise, I am a clown by profession. :)

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DareM View Post
    When I play games, I am very serious. I take it as a job. Otherwise, I am a clown by profession. :)
    Tell me the secrets of the Guild of Clowning, that I may learn your mysterious ways.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Tell me the secrets of the Guild of Clowning, that I may learn your mysterious ways.
    The Medallion of the Imperial Psychopath, a Napoleon: Total War AAR
    For the Emperor!, a Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai AAR

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Goddamnit, man, words have definitions. You can't just define a word any fucking way you want.

    "Fun," indeed.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
    Director of the Friends of Nalano PAC
    Attorney at Lawl
    "His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy." - Woody Allen

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    [Incredible image]
    Well, I'm not sure if I'm impressed or horrified.

  13. #13
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    ^This seems like a much better essay on the topic.
    In short, games don't need to be fun. They need to be engaging. Games like day z or amnesia are engaging but not fun, for example.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    Kidby's amazing. He draws the Discworld stuff seemingly right out of my head.

  15. #15
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    Agreeable fun is relative but I understood that this was all about encouraging experimentation and not just trying to get the next big thing. Most of the companies try to play it safe and we get a lot of the same games. I have to admit I love most of the same games but I love FTL too, which isn't anything new but really took off. I want more companies to experiment and discover new, great methods from the failures of those experiments.

    Also thanks Protoman, that's a great video.
    Last edited by StuntmanLT; 27-01-2013 at 01:50 AM.

  16. #16
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    Because different?

  17. #17
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    More than anything else, games need to be games.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    I think part of the issue is that the author decided that "fun" has to mean "YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAH DUDEBRO GRRRRRRR KILL THAT GUY WITH XENOPHOBIC BULLETS OF PAIN YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!" instead of "amusement".
    Yeah, he really made a meal out of it. Just say not every game has to trigger an adrenaline rush and keep you high to be entertaining.

  19. #19
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    Not all games can give fun to anyone in a uniform way. fun is subjective but I do agree that some games, however designed to be fun, fail at delivery of it.

  20. #20
    Fun as an experience is obviously subjective. Fun as a defined word probably has some flex (like all non-technical words) but even within what the dictionary (OED) gives us, we get "enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure."

    That's fairly broad; I'd consider Dear Esther "enjoyable" and so it wouldn't seem too contrary to call it fun. The question is whether this is really a meaningful topic.

    There's a difference between enjoyment of the experience and enjoyment of the result, and I think this is where the conversation gets a bit more interesting and where some modern games can go wrong.

    In the context of online experiences and big multiplayer games, there's obviously a trend these days towards persistent unlocks and levelling progression. I think it's problematic though when achieving progress in these games takes a lot of bland repetitive gameplay. In a shooter that requires me to sink hours and hours before I can play with the "fun" weapons or an MMO which requires a huge grind for equipment that lets me access the "fun" content, there comes a time when you've got to sit back and ask what's more important - the journey or the destination?

    Dear Esther is pretty much all destination. It's a narrative game/experience/thing built around the end payoff (which you may or may not think is all that great; but that's another discussion). Personally I found the game enjoyable enough to play, for a while, although it was a close call. There were a few frustrations relating to walking speed and getting stuck which irked me a bit; and seeing the ending come a mile off made it a bit of a slog.

    I don't think I'd have put up with a truly awful experience, no matter what the payoff. This is true of any medium - a badly made film or a poorly written book are equally deserving of criticism, no matter how clever or worthy their content. Being "art" is not an excuse for poor delivery.

    The wider question then becomes one about the merits about working for that payoff. A "difficult" book (as opposed to a merely obtuse or convoluted one) may in fact be more rewarding in the end. A complex wine may be enjoyed better by someone who's gone through the "grind" (just to stretch the games comparison to breaking point) of developing their palette in order to appreciate it more.

    Working for something invests you in it and potentially opens the door to greater enjoyment. Whether this entitles you to be derisive about more straightforward and simpler pleasures, and how video games should position themselves within this discussion, is however a bigger topic than just talking about the idea of fun.

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