The Essence of Fun

When trying to get down to the purest essence of “fun,” it becomes difficult to quantify something that should be simple.  When Koster describes how many become bored with games that are exceedingly simple or exceedingly difficult, he isolates the true nature of fun.  That is, one can make the connection that in a majority of situations, something is “fun” when it is not only enjoyable to an individual, but it also presents a unique challenge that causes that individual to experience something new or intriguing.  When a game is too simple, we understand all the aspects and angles quickly, and thus it becomes a bore.  Conversely, a game that throws conventions to the wayside and creates a wholly new environment unfamiliar to an individual can sometimes fail to garner the dedication of time and effort requited to fully understand it.

As Koster notes, our brains tend to “chunk” related information learned in order to perform certain simple tasks on an “autopilot” of sorts.  A game in which none of this chunked information could be applied might be considered difficult and undeserving of the time required to truly master the game.  Games, therefore, must strike the perfect balance between simplicity and complexity in order to fall into a category in which a majority of individuals would consider them to be “fun.”  It seems to be the games that can achieve this equilibrium are the ones that acquire the recognition and fans they deserve.