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A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2004)

by Raph Koster

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4671138,037 (4.02)1
A Theory of Fun for Game Design is not your typical how-to book. It features a novel way of teaching interactive designers how to create and improve their designs to incorporate the highest degree of fun. As the book shows, designing for fun is all about making interactive products like games highly entertaining, engaging, and addictive. The book's unique approach of providing a highly visual storyboard approach combined with a narrative on the art and practice of designing for fun is sure to be a hit with game and interactive designers, At first glance A Theory of Fun for Game Design is a book that will truly inspire and challenge game designers to think in new was; however, its universal message will influence designers from all walks of life. This book captures the real essence of what drives us to seek out products and experiences that are truly fun and entertaining. The author masterfully presents his engaging theory by showing readers how many designs are lacking because they are predictable and not engaging enough. He then explains how great designers use different types of elements in new ways to make designs more fun and compelling. Anyone who is interested in design will enjoy how the book works on two levels--as a quick inspiration guide to game design, or as an informative discussion that details the insightful thinking from a great mind in the game industry.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Theory of Fun for Game Design* is a deceptively educational book on the topic of fun and game design. Less on game design and more on fun. In 244 pages, Raph Koster provides his definition of fun, and outlines the importance of games for learning. Koster explains that we find learning fun, specifically, we enjoy problem solving and skills development. Games are a great vehicle for both, and they have been used since the beginning of time as a means of passing on survival skills — but times have changed. Read more ( )
  skrabut | Sep 2, 2020 |
Don't bother with this one. It's just $6 in the Kindle store, or else I wouldn't have even bought it, but I regret it now in any case. Luckily it's quite short, but even so I just skimmed a chapter or two.

To me, this is a collection of sometimes barely coherent stream-of-thought ramblings of a video-game executive, apparently about what makes games fun, though you'd barely know to read it. They don't really seem to have much purpose to it, except to draw attention to how educated and cultured the author is (he frequently makes comparisons to classical music and other "classical" forms of art, as if to say, hey look at me, I'm a man of the world). Also, the chapter titles often don't match the contents, like the one on ethics.

If there's a central theme to it, it's that fun means learning and then "grokking" (as in deeply internalizing) something new, though I'm not sure that revelation was worth the six bucks.

It looks like the author called up a couple of his contacts (all well known industry figures) and asked them to write a glowing cover blurb (or a foreword) to his book. Him being an important industry executive, they naturally obliged, though the generic tone of their recommendations should have been a giveaway. There's a lesson to be learned here about celebrity endorsements, kids. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
The pictures didn't translate well to ebook format; their captions were very difficult to read. ( )
  questbird | Sep 26, 2018 |
This is a cute book -- kind of reminded me of Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" or Martin Gardner's "Aha!" The title mostly refers to the first part of the book during which Koster gives a quick overview of his take on a theory of how "fun" works. The second half of the book is more of a manifesto on games as art. People deep in the world of game design might not get much out of this directly -- although it's nice to just see an important game designer's take on the subject. But this book would be great for folks just digging into the theory and practice of game design for the first time. It almost begs to be on the reading list in college classes about game design, interactive media, or art theory in general. ( )
  chasing | Jan 18, 2016 |
Perhaps because the one or two core ideas are old hat and well-accepted*, this book underwhelmed. Very readable, but not much to retain or apply. His concluding exhortations about the potential of games seemed to be cherished beliefs but presented without enough support to be useful, aimed more at notgames or artgames than games.

(*) Of course, Koster's definition of "fun" isn't well accepted, but that's because he's identifying one particular flavor (out of four or eight or more) of game-related fun and referring to that as fun for the entire book. Since he doesn't do this immediately, even doubters who have looked at the beginning of the book find it easy to dismiss. ( )
  tomhudson | Mar 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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A Theory of Fun for Game Design is not your typical how-to book. It features a novel way of teaching interactive designers how to create and improve their designs to incorporate the highest degree of fun. As the book shows, designing for fun is all about making interactive products like games highly entertaining, engaging, and addictive. The book's unique approach of providing a highly visual storyboard approach combined with a narrative on the art and practice of designing for fun is sure to be a hit with game and interactive designers, At first glance A Theory of Fun for Game Design is a book that will truly inspire and challenge game designers to think in new was; however, its universal message will influence designers from all walks of life. This book captures the real essence of what drives us to seek out products and experiences that are truly fun and entertaining. The author masterfully presents his engaging theory by showing readers how many designs are lacking because they are predictable and not engaging enough. He then explains how great designers use different types of elements in new ways to make designs more fun and compelling. Anyone who is interested in design will enjoy how the book works on two levels--as a quick inspiration guide to game design, or as an informative discussion that details the insightful thinking from a great mind in the game industry.

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