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Theory of Fun for Game Design Paperback – December 2, 2013
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About the Author
Raph Koster is a veteran game designer who has been professionally credited in almost every area of the game industry. He's been the lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies; and he's contributed writing, art, soundtrack music, and programming to many more titles ranging from Facebook games to single-player titles for handheld consoles. He has worked as a creative executive at Sony Online and Disney Playdom, and in 2012 was honored as an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online.
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Top Customer Reviews
The only reason I've given this 4 rather than 5 stars is the very outdated chapter on gender differences in gaming.
It's good that he uses such a narrow definition, since the book is slim and quick to read: without narrowing down the field, he'd have been able to give only the most cursory of overviews of any aspect of fun. The first chapter or so of the book is merely a justification for this definition, but is delightfully written and amusing nontheless!
But the remainder of the book, where he explores this one facet of fun, and things like its relationship to game stickiness, and game balance, is why this book has become a classic among game designers. Because learning and mastery ARE aspects that should be given a lot of attention in the area of game design.
But beware of believing from this book that mastery is the only type of fun to be had! The book is a fun read, and not only because it is pedagogical, but because it is well written, makes interesting points in a humorous way, and is supported by amusing and relevant illustrations throughout.
The author talks a lot about things like trying to nail down what this "fun" sensation actually is, and why we find certain things either fun and other things not so fun. He breaks down what sorts of attributes a game should have in order for it to at least have a chance of being found fun. He also touches on some related topics briefly like gender and age differences, and the sustainability of games. Then there is a small discussion about ethics and some random ideas about the future of gaming.
The book is definitely brief, weighing in at underr 250 pages. The pages have fairly large print and every other page is filled with a full-page illustration. But at this price, it is still a fairly good value. The illustrations are generally quite good and add a lot to the enjoyment of reading this book.
I really enjoyed this book. It got me thinking about my gaming projects in a bit of a different way, and I've now got a bunch of new ideas floating around inside my head that hopefully will find there way into some interesting, and yes, "fun", games. I definitely recommend this book for game developers that strive to do more than make rehashes of yesterdays games.
This book handles a tough topic and does it well. Whether you are a game designer or just someone who realizes that people enjoy playing games, this book is for you.
It studies the nature of fun. The book does an excellent job of differentiating between appreciation that the book views as an end and fleeting (e.g., yum! a cookie!, or wow! what a beautiful sunset!, or *blush* thank you for such a nice compliment!) and fun that the books views as a process and something that can be extended for quite a while under the right circumstances.
While the book focuses on fun as problem solving and learning, the book also mentions other psychological aspects to fun and why computer games have tended to focus on territorial, conflict, and piece fitting games.
The writing style is deceptively easy to understand given the complexity of the topic, and I found myself going back and re-reading several of the sections days later after some reflection.
The book is loaded with insightful and humorous illustrations.
All in all, an excellent product!
I highly recommend it!