8.1. Kinds of Fun

You may remember from the MDA Framework that the authors listed 8 aesthetics (kinds of fun). Recall that these are not all-or-nothing propositions. Games can contain several kinds of fun, in varying quantities.

Are these eight the only kinds of fun? No; even the authors admit the above list is incomplete. There are many classification schemes out there to identify different kinds of fun, including Nicole Lazzaro’s four fun keys, or Pierre-Alexandre Garneau’s fourteen forms of fun. Even the 8 kinds of fun from the MDA paper are debatable. Is it meaningful to separate Fantasy and Narrative, or are they just two ways of looking at the same kind of fun? Is submission really a kind of fun, or is it what happens when you have a game compelling enough to earn the status of “hobby” – is it a cause or an effect? What, exactly, counts as “expression” and what does not?

Why not just create a game that has all eight kinds of fun? Wouldn’t that be the holy grail of games, the game that’s fun for everyone? Unfortunately, no. Just because these are different kinds of fun does not mean that everyone finds all eight of these things fun at all. Not only do different games provide different combinations and relative quantities of the various kinds of fun, but different players find different combinations more or less fun than others. Some people adore the challenge of Dark Souls games - others do not enjoy that aesthetic as much.

Materials on this page adapted from:
Game Design Concepts by Ian Schreiber (CC BY-NC 3.0)