The blog Teaching Design has some interesting ruminations on game design from the point of view of those people trying to teach it in colleges and universities. A two part feature entitled "What Teachers Need To Know About Game Design" offers some starting points for those wanting to give their game design knowledge an academic grounding, including the anthropological explanation of the meaning of fun:
Note that all of these kinds of fun can be traced back to hunter/gatherer survival skills. Social skills are important because we can work together to hunt animals that are too large or powerful for a single one of us. Exploration is important so that we can have larger areas of territory to find food in. Collection is simply the "gatherer" half of hunter/gatherer.