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Theory of Fun for Game Design

Theory of Fun for Game Design [Kindle Edition]

Raph Koster
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Now in full color, the 10th anniversary edition of this classic book takes you deep into the influences that underlie modern video games, and examines the elements they share with traditional games such as checkers. At the heart of his exploration, veteran game designer Raph Koster takes a close look at the concept of fun and why it’s the most vital element in any game.

Why do some games become boring quickly, while others remain fun for years? How do games serve as fundamental and powerful learning tools? Whether you’re a game developer, dedicated gamer, or curious observer, this illustrated, fully updated edition helps you understand what drives this major cultural force, and inspires you to take it further.

You’ll discover that:

  • Games play into our innate ability to seek patterns and solve puzzles
  • Most successful games are built upon the same elements
  • Slightly more females than males now play games
  • Many games still teach primitive survival skills
  • Fictional dressing for modern games is more developed than the conceptual elements
  • Truly creative designers seldom use other games for inspiration
  • Games are beginning to evolve beyond their prehistoric origins

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 12755 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1449363210
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (8 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #167,272 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 25 Nov 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A thought provoking book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read but only part of it is about the theory of fun 24 Dec 2013
By Ian A Deane - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ultimately I was disappointed by this book. As I game designer I was hoping for a book with information about how to make games fun, pick game concepts that would be fun and find the fun in games. I found that the first half of this book explains the author's theory on what makes games fun at a fairly high level. I was expecting the second half of the book to flesh the theory out, give examples, show evidence and explain how to apply it. Instead the second half of this book is an essay defending video games as an art form and discussing ethics in video games. It is interesting but not particularly useful.

I was hoping for a book that would describe the various psychological theory's of fun and give examples showing how games apply these theory's to create fun. I was also hoping for an explanation why some game mechanics such as Tetris are fun to play for hours whereas others become boring quickly. The author's theory does not explain this.

I also feel that the author missed some of the things that make games fun. For example many games are built around wealth creation. The book doesn't mention this beyond a gemeral mention that most games have a reward structure.

This book is an interesting read but I am still looking for a good book offering insights into how to make fun games.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but a little short on information 4 July 2014
By Mateo R. - Published on
As already mentioned in other reviews, the first half of this book is kind of dedicated to what makes a game actually fun, the second half is an essay defending games as an art form. I am a person that likes just plain facts, also I expect to find statements backed up by research (even if it's simple common sense research, nothing rigorous or people in white coats). This book is nothing like that, it is written in prose in a style that is more like a commentary or conversation, and the ideas are scattered along the book. The background of the author is a writer, so although his language is very rich and precise, it ultimately doesn't deliver what the title of the book promises. It doesn't delve into an actual theory of what makes a game fun, it just throws here and there ideas about his own experiences of what makes a game fun. In his defense the ideas that he does present are valuable, but unfortunately you have to extract the information little by little by flipping through many pages of the book. By the way, half of the book are illustrations, and I personally believe that half of them don't add or enrich the content. Ultimately I'm a little disappointed. The book in itself is not bad, I just think that the book could be about only 30 to 40 pages of actual information about what makes a game entertaining.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Opinion on why Tic-Tac-Toe isn't fun - Or how to make it not boring. 7 Feb 2014
By Dinubabear - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First this is an easy and interesting read. It is in full color and may be just what you need if this is the first time you wondered why something is fun. It goes on to explain at a very high level why a specific subset of games are fun and then become boring.

However, it is NOT a THEORY on the psychology of why people find things fun. By the title, this is what I thought I was going to get, and I was disappointed. I'm going to nitpick on what I found wrong with the book. If you don't like reading criticisms like this, it might be better to skip this review.

First, it is not a theory and is not done by a psychologist or someone who understands human behavior, but by a game designer. Sure, he writes great games, but it is his intuitive guess or opinion on why things are fun. It doesn't even rate as an untested hypothesis, as the sample size is only 3. It's based on himself and his very young children. At that age, children are taught to think like you, so it is a biased and unfair sample.

He goes on to say that, like Tic-Tac-Toe, ALL games are based on a pattern, are teaching games, are only fun while we are learning the pattern, are boring when we have mastered the pattern, or are not smart enough to grasp the pattern early on. He then admits to often quitting the games he cannot master easily or once he has mastered them. So I find his opinion suspect.

Every other page is a full-page, full-color drawing. Why is this a bad thing? Full color art should add value to the book, right? As comics (which is what you assume they are at first) they are not funny, and the art is amateurish. As illustrations they are not often useful. Which means they are filler to expand the book. They do not look like something you would find in the Sunday funnies, but something you would find in an alternative newspaper. In full color.

After the first half of the book where he has broad summaries of his opinion of his subset of games, the second half he should go into detail on how to make games fun, right? WRONG. He defends his job as a game designer and how they are useful to society. Well, I agree that game designers are great. But in the preface he told about how his grandfather was disappointed that he did not have a useful job like his other grandchildren and he felt he needed to defend himself to his grandfather. I wouldn't want to buy a book so I could be the author's therapist. The book is already thin on useful information, since it only gets half the pages, but on top of that, game theory is only 1/2 the book?! So only about 25% of the pages explain how to make games fun or not in his opinion.

His postulate that ALL games are based on patterns is just wrong. Random games like roulette do not have a pattern you can learn to win. Some games where you can grasp the pattern, do not become boring, like Tetris. Some games are based on accumulating stuff, like Sim City or any RPG. His small sample he based his opinion on is too small.

That said, if you are young, and just starting out, this is a great book to learn how to avoid a lot of mistakes. How to keep your game from getting too boring too fast. As a game designer he understands what gets boring even if he does not understand all the psychological reasons on why. He gives you the big picture, but you need enough creativity and imagination to apply it to your own games you design.

And if you don't have creativity and imagination, then ask yourself why do you want to design games.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully satisfying 6 Dec 2014
By Andrew S. - Published on
Excellent book that does exactly what it sets out to do. Sure, it doesn't get very technical in to the magic of fun making, as if there is such a thing, but guides you to think it over for yourself. Not very long but pleasantly humorous to reread.
5.0 out of 5 stars I'd rented the book for the class and liked it so much I decided to purchase it 24 Nov 2014
By C. N. Hickey - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had to read this for a grad-level class on Gamification. I'd rented the book for the class and liked it so much I decided to purchase it. It's a light-hearted read on the subject, which was nice for a change.
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