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Why are games fun?

Why are games fun?

Games  elicit specific feelings in their players. We like to experience these feelings:

  • Discovery
  • Power
  • Teamwork
  • Skillfulness
  • Fear
  • More

What is a game?

  • unpredictable
  • player choice affects what happens
  • choice available are created by designers

Anything in which you play subjected to defined rules

How do we think of games


MDA  Framework

Mechanics. Dynamics, Aesthetics


1、Rules-> Mechanics



Designers create mechanics

Mechanics, when played, create dynamics

Dynamics have aesthetics effects on players

Player inverse the order.


What choices are created?

Categories  of Mechanics

  • Physics
    • Motion and force
    • Position over time
    • Collisions
  • Internal economy
    • Resources being collected, consumed, and moving around
    • Money, ammunition, health points
  • Progression
    • Restricting access to parts of the game until certain criteria are met
    • Locks key-codes, boss monster
  • Tactical Maneuvering
    • Placing game units in advantageous locations
    • Movement rules, environmental affects
  • Social Interactions
    • Alliances, invitations, gift-giving
    • Negotiation, role playing

Why not just rules?

  1. Rules are instructions
  2. Mechanics are descriptions of how systems functions
  3. Players interact with these systems


Negative feedback!!

= Changing systems over time

Mechanics and Dynamics

rules with player

Behavior is separate from dynamics

A falling object is dynamics

Difficult to work out  from just reading the rules

The complexities of a game come from interacting rules

Dynamics is Tactics not in the rules, but present anyway


Dynamics have effects on players!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

low level things!

Feel like a pray or hunter


  • Sensation
    • Game as sense-pleasure
  • Fantasy
    • make-believe
  • Narrative
    • unfolding stroy
  • Chanllege
    • obstacle course
    • puzzle
  • Fellowship
    • social framework
  • Discovery
    • Uncharted territory
  • Expression
    • soap box?
    • mine craft
  • Submission
    • mindless pastime

Aesthetics are how people describe fun

Examing Game using MDA

<The resistance>

  • Rebel vs Evil government
  • most are rebels
  • some are spies(bad guy)
  • rebel know nothing
  • but spies know spies




  • Accusation
  • Deduction
  • Createion of “circles of trust”
  • Camouflage
    • help the mission
  • Misdirection
    • I am not the spy
  • Sacrifice
    • One spy denounce another

Aesthetics in Resistance

  • For Rebels
    • Paranoia
    • Uncertainty
  • For Spies
    • Silent teamwork
    • Fear of discovery

Small Rule Change

The resistance -. Avalon

Two new rules -> Merlin(Good guy normal, he knows who the spies are) and Assassin(can know who is Merlin)

NEW Dynamics In Avalon

  • Merlin tries to give info to good players without giving themselves away
  • Players try to discover Merlin identity
  • Evil palyers pretend to be Merlin
  • Merlin tries to find independent justifications for stuff
    • 不能直接投票,因为怕被认出来
  • Multiple routes to vitory Evil players
  • Merlin descovery gambits
  • Merlin discovery conter gambits
  • Merlin discovery counter-counter-gambits

NEW Aesthetic In Avalon

  • Frustration for merlin
  • Out Thinking
  • fast talking
  • Guardianship
  • Vigiliance

Dynamics and Narrative

close linked

Games tell stories

Not just though written narrative, but through emergent narrative!!!!!!!!


Half life 2

Ravenholm is a scary level: Combine several well placed element to create a scary experiment

Reinforcement through setting : sound change

Suddenly change of environment

  • Player is deliberately starved of ammo
    • Earlier areas feature plenty
    • sudden shift in availability crete contrast and unease
  • To compenstate, player is forced to improvise and get closer than usual to dangerous enemies
  • New mechanics designed to reinforce scariness
    • Poision headcrabs
      • change 100->1 but never die
      • make other monster dangerous

Games tell stories thorough gameplay.

Good Game tell two stories(designers’ game and players’ game)

Great Games tell One(!!!!!!!!!!)

Stories are not mandatory

impossible to create a game player not to create story


Dynamics and Tension

Effective Dynamics

  • have dramatic tension
  • what is dramatic tension

Dramatic Tension

Rising tension goes up over time

rich climate


Tension is created through a combination of uncertainty and inevitability


The outcome is unknown, Anyone could win or lose

Or too obvious!


The contest between players is moving forword to resolution and the outcome is imminent.

Or too distant!!

Sources of Invitability

  • taking plot
  • time
  • moving down to screen
  • number of rooms is limited

Sources of Uncertainty

  • fog of war!!!!
  • losing players can make a comeback
  • negative feedback
    • car race
      • pick object use on other cars
    • gone home
      • 2014
      • just arrive home
      • figure out what happened
      • open doors
      • watch items materials
        • No knowledge of  what’s behind a door
      • Aesthetics is her ok
      • “Walking simulator”
      • DMA!!!

Mechanics in more depth

  • Discrete
    • no gradual movement between value
    • represented by whole numbers
      • money
      • items
    • MORE creative
  • Continuous
    • smooth movement between values
    • usually represented by fractions
      • jump
    • ARE set

Descrete Mechanics require planing

You can combine them of couse

Game feel

  • High level mechanics <> Discrete
    • Checkpoints
    • Bonuses
    • Types of weapons
  • Low level mechanics <> Continueous
    • How fast you move
    • How quickly you turn
    • How high you can jump

Games in the same genre feel different!!


Diff Game Feel!

Small mechanical diff lead to diff in an aesthetic called ‘game feel’

By feel we don’t strictly means tactility – the sensation of touch

Instead we mean the virtual sensation of responsiveness. Under your hand

Clone Mario by copying
<Game feel by Steve Swink>


Elements of Game feel

  • Real time control!!!
  • Simulated Space!!
  • Polish
    • sound
    • shapes
    • actions
  • Not all games have feel
    • not a good thing or bed thing
    • eg chess
  • A game can feel good or bad
  • How does game feel good
    • has predictable results
    • Instantaneous response
    • Easy but depth(consequences)
    • Novelty
    • Appealing response
      • peasant to observe
    • Organic motion
      • feel natural
    • Harmony
      • in harmony with other element
      • consistent






Published inDiary

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