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    benign masochism vs. "fun that is bad"

    More questions stemming out of yesterday's question. Are games that are hard more fun? My initial feeling is that there's maybe a "sweet spot" between a game that is so easy that it quickly becomes boring and one that is so hard that the player decides that progress is either impossible or not worth the time investment (I quit the otherwise adorable Un Jammer Lammy because the learning curve was too fucking steep for me to play the second level one more time).

    Raph Koster's lecture / series of doodles Theory of Fun for Game Design (largish PDF) puts this in terms of pattern recognition: playing a game involves puzzling out its rule or behavior patterns, which is fun as long as steady, non-redundant progress is being made on the task.

    Tom Coates' Plasticbag weblog has a post on "things that aren't fun, and fun that is bad," in which he asks a whole series of interesting related questions (specifically on World of Warcraft):

    "I've started wondering whether a game could still be considered good if you want to play it a lot but at the same time resent the time that it takes from you. What if you find it boring but still somehow can't put it down[?] Can you love and hate a game at the same time and still call it 'fun'? Can a game be a narcotic, or a guilty secret or an addiction? Can it be a fruitless activity without value that still feels good?"

    Long, interesting comments thread follows.

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    Thursday, September 07, 2006
    3:48 PM


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