Do Games really need to be Fun?

Do all games need to be “Fun”?

Fun means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Minecraft is one of the most popular modern games, but a lot of its activity is extremely slow and passive. Despite this, many people would say Minecraft is fun.

I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of each, but lets list off some games with unconventional fun: Horror, Puzzle, Masocore, Building, Text-based, Adventure, tower defense, simulation, gambling.

All of these are fun in some way though, even if they don’t strictly share the same fun elements.

It’s like movies, plenty of movies are sad, some are scary, some are depressing, some are inspirational, but all are engaging. On some level, we enjoy feeling sad, anxious, or scared in the form of a movie. If we don’t enjoy that, if we don’t experience some type of catharsis through seeing the film, then we typically turn it off, or avoid it.

Movies don’t have to be fun, however with games, I think the fundamental operating method is through fun. People who have different definitions of fun than I do will disagree, and that is fine. It’s not a very clearly defined word in the public consciousness.

Games are the art of challenge, the art of manipulating systems. Fun is a response to the successful manipulation of a system. Games modulate this in different ways, which is where the art comes in, but fundamentally what makes a game is connected to fun in one way or another. Even horror games, commonly presented as a counter-example to games needing to be fun, use the mechanism of fun as a road to horror.

Yeah, I think fun is something intrinsic in games, which is a bit unlike other artistic media, but (most) other artistic media isn’t founded on manipulating a specific behavioral process.

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