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Dauntless

Are games only for fun?

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I guess that kinda sounds like a stupid question, but what I mean by that is should games only be entertainment? I''m not talking about, "are games art", or "can games be considered free speech?". Instead, I wonder how many designers see games as an educational tool, or even a tool to improve ones self. I was reading a book on Aikido and I realized I had forgotten many important principles. One of the ideas stressed in the book was that of the notion that we have become a society of entertainment and luxury. We want everything handed to us on a silver platter with little to no effort. We have diet pills that promise easy loss, and ab machines that make exercising "easy". Isn''t the whole point of exercise that its supposed to be hard? Some people will think, "why play a game if it is hard or too much work?", but the same can be said of any endeavor that requires skill. Look at people that practice any kind of sport...the training is often brutal, but the person is rewarded by becoming more skillful or in better shape. The Chinese have a saying, "eating bitter". It means that if you want something worthwhile, you have to suffer and work hard for it. My grandfather basically told me that nothing worth anything comes easy in life. But the point I''m trying to make is that games CAN teach this, although it will be harder than other skills because it will be harder to translate what you learn in the game to real life. Look at games that have high learning curves. Most people simply don''t want to bother with them because they aren''t "fun". But I think as designers, we have to give small rewards, small signs to make the player feel as if he is improving....and perhaps not just as a player...but as a person. I think much of this can be accomplished through the storyline, but also how the missions are presented can make a player feel better about himself. Perhaps this is why the media is so against games, because they see no redeeming values in games because most games do not even have a moral or a story. Perhaps it is time to rethink how games can be used and how we can make games "edutainment"

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If a game isn''t neccessarily "fun" or is really hard and you have to work at improving yourself in order to benefit / have fun from it, the game must make that worth while. For instance, it takes a lot of work to become really good at chess ( i understand the peices, but that is all ) but some people excel at that game and have fun from it.

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quote:
Original post by Dauntless
I was reading a book on Aikido and I realized I had forgotten many important principles. One of the ideas stressed in the book was that of the notion that we have become a society of entertainment and luxury. We want everything handed to us on a silver platter with little to no effort. We have diet pills that promise easy loss, and ab machines that make exercising "easy". Isn''t the whole point of exercise that its supposed to be hard?



Not to go off topic, but you know, of course, how many reports and studies out there that talk about how hard we work, how much we sacrifice for our children, how hard we study in school, work to improve our homes, etc. etc. ad naseum. (That''s the problem with siting specific fads or behaviors and generalizing.)

quote:

Some people will think, "why play a game if it is hard or too much work?", but the same can be said of any endeavor that requires skill.



Most people study to improve their careers or accomplish something. If a game furthers this, its probably considered training, rather than entertainment.

quote:

Look at people that practice any kind of sport...the training is often brutal, but the person is rewarded by becoming more skillful or in better shape.


But there are real world rewards for practicing sports. The same isn''t true (at least yet) for games, for the most part. (Korea excepted...)

quote:

But the point I''m trying to make is that games CAN teach this, although it will be harder than other skills because it will be harder to translate what you learn in the game to real life. Look at games that have high learning curves.



I''ve actually heard of SimCity and several strategy games being used to train people for very specific tasks (like logistics and strategy). You also might argue that many games that teach either logic or problem solving, or hand-eye coordination also already teach valuable skills.

quote:

But I think as designers, we have to give small rewards, small signs to make the player feel as if he is improving....and perhaps not just as a player...but as a person. I think much of this can be accomplished through the storyline, but also how the missions are presented can make a player feel better about himself.



This is also another discussion, but I believe, in general, that there needs to be more games that appeal to a more mature audience, and certainly one way to do that is through a more deeply introspective storyline.

quote:

Perhaps this is why the media is so against games, because they see no redeeming values in games because most games do not even have a moral or a story.



Nah, actually the media is mostly against us for the same reason that they were against the "talkies" of the early 20th century: It''s a new medium, they can''t relate, they don''t get it, and the material appeals to an audience that''s essentially "not them." Give it time, and just as with the internet, they''ll understand as soon as they can make this new medium their own.

quote:

Perhaps it is time to rethink how games can be used and how we can make games "edutainment"


I''d be interested in hearing specific examples that translate well into the real world...

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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"Are games only for fun?"

In a nutshell: yes.

Of course every game is a little bit more than just entertainment because more or less automatically values and world views are related. But I consider making a game a tool for that bad style at best. Games ARE supposed to be fun, to entertain is their primary function. People who buy games want to be entertained, that is what they spend their money for (unless it explicitly states on the box that this is a learning game). If you use your game as your personal soapbox then you have abused the players trust and effectively cheated him out of his money and playing experience.

Contrary to your beliefs learning does NOT have to hurt in order to be effective. Sure, some things are more pleasant to learn than others, but especially when it comes to sports it is important to listen to your body - if it hurts you´re not doing it much good. I`m not saying that you should never push your limits, but to equal pain with a good learning experience is plain wrong.
And as for helping the player grow as a person, no thanks. That is (again) much too close to the soapbox I was mentioning. The player bought entertainment, not a lecture on how to live his life. And lets be honest, who are you (or anyone) to tell me how to be a better person? There is nothing more pathetic than these do-gooders who are trying to improve us (ever see a recent Steven Seagall film? His tree-huggin eco-awareness messages are just painful to watch...).

Some of your worldview and values will of course make it into your game, that is unavoidable. But I think it is wrong to center your game around that, or even make it an integral part of your game. Your job is to provide entertainment, not to preach or teach a self-help course.
If you want to make games like that, make it clear that it´s not a game of the usual make, because otherwise people will feel cheated. I doubt that many people will be interested, but if you can produce it cheaply there might be a niche for it.

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Fun is in the eye of the beholder. Then there are other things like a reputation associated with something. I also think there are cultural and personality traits involved. Take chess as an example.

Some people find chess fun others don''t. Some people like checkers but not chess, they are both board games... both require a amount of strategy. Some people default choose to play checkers because chess is associated with being a ''nerd''. The flip side of that is that some people like choose to play chess because it is associated with being smart. If introduced to some thing on that level what we choose to represent ourselves as a person can impact what a person defines as fun. In the above case what i''m saying is that fun comes later on. The associations are usually cultural traits and can exist in some societies and not in others. The simple fact is some cultures are polarized, in the sense that you can be either smart or athletic... not outright but it the writing on the wall.

Then there is who introduces something to you, and how. Basically what i''m saying is that if you like your father and your father used to play chess with you as a kid, and he made it ''fun'' then chances are you will like chess. However if your father made it so you had to be able to beat deep blue at the age of 7... Sometimes its the associated relationships and events in your life that can help define if something is fun or not. If a person is made fun of for playing chess the person can use that to either strengthen or weaken there like or dislike of the game, it depends on the people involved and the relations inbetween.

Then there is the challenge some people like things that provide a challenge. Challenge can be mental, physical or both, and some people will stray away from one or all of them. I have a friend who buys the strategy guide for a game with the game. I always thought that by itself was bad but the worst part is the fact he uses it from the beginning making no effort to try to figure the game out. They are many other things that can be said about why people find something fun or not but in the end you can''t really define fun for the whole.

Some people might find a purely educational game fun while others not... its just a matter of who your target audience is. You could always make a game with education that is there but not advertised. I don''t know if its like this now but I remember a friend telling me that in either japan or china (i forgot which) most TV cartoons teach history or myth. This was told to me after I had watched an episode, and I really didn''t "see the education at the time." The problem in a game is you don''t have to play and so while you could throw in whatever you want its a matter of will the player continue to play and if they do will they just disregard the lesson as a part of the game. If the lesson is not reinforced in life then it is just another thing you needed to do to finish the game. Of course the person could play the game and find some "philisophical resonance" with what you are trying to tell them, but in the end it all comes down to the person playing the game.

---Its all psychology.

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i think your that is a bomb qeustion because that is what i think about when i think of makeing a game i think there should be a blacnes between fun and learning/theaching an like starwars
in starwars they tell about good and bad and how one cant live with out the other and much more and people who watch it and listen to what they say can learn from it a lot of what they say is in any holy book its just said diffrent. and i think thats were the line comes in is how its said and who its said by so if
you wanted to teach aikido you could make some kind of game where
the camra zoom in on a good move and slow down the fram rate so to show the move or whatever and then put some cool charter in who story is based on what you belive and what you think is wrong
as for fun in video games people have to make money if a company
wants to be on top no matter what and make the most money they have to keep a strong hold on the consumer hey i would do the same thing and but i think there is a lot of game that can teach you things but you have to have like whatever you want to learn
like you i like the art of fighting (not the game) and i read the burce lee book jet ku do and i learnd something in the book that can help me in real life and in the game and because i dont fight a lot in real lif i had to somewhat practics in the game (tekken) and the skill i learnd from real life from the book help me in the game now i am man at that game so to wrap it up i just think there has to be a middle ground between fun and learning make the fun real fun and teach/laerning even funer!

devonne1

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To the "can games be education?" question, I ask "isn''t education a game?". I think it is. There is learning, there are tests, there are scores, one can win and one can lose. Simulated action in a controlled environment.

So the games - education dichotomy is superficial, stemming from the definitions of these two terms. Actually, the only difference between game and education is that the main purpose of a game is fun while the main purpose of education is to learn something useful.

Steps can be taken to make games more educative (historical games, economic simulators, flight simulators, etc.) and to make education more fun, but the main goal must be respected. If you’re making a game, don’t let education spoil the fun. If you’re making an education product, don’t let fun lower the standards.

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The Citizen Kane answer: Games are meant to be PLAYED. Whether they''re fun is primarily linked to how well they play, but also has secondary links to story, atmosphere and other presentation.

Games can be meaningful and impart deep messages, and they can teach, but these are optional.

The acid test: remove all optional extras like deep plot, terrapixels of graphics, surround sound, etc, and see if it''s fun. If it is, then these extras will help, but only so much. If it isn''t any fun, all the extras in the world wont change that one bit.

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The word game surely implies that it''s only meant to be fun, however I think that with Video Games on a whole, its a bit immature to demand that everything be fun. If you want to some day enjoy the luxuries of being politically protected speech, being an artform, you have to accept that art isn''t neccessarily fun. Otherwise every movie you''ll ever watch will only be fun, and every book will only be fun, and the museums will replace Picasso with Dilbert for the fun factor. What I think we need to discuss is not if a game should be fun, but that it be enjoyable, and there is a difference there. Movies like Memento were enjoyable, but not fun in the smile happy happy sence. Likewise, not every game should warrant you being happy after playing it. There are more emotions that could be played with, which the Tragedy threads are talking about.

As for enjoyability, yes. This is an important area. Some people like to read romance novels, they like it. They like the range of emotions that they offer. So, players should enjoy the games. And although it sounds like I''m playing with semantics, it has to be recognized that there is more than just the "oh this is fun" mold.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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stop trying to make games fun. Nothing is fun to everyone. What ever happened to the cult classic. Aim your game at those who might appreciate it. The elements of what is fun have then changed, and I think the extras then become more defining, but yes, you loose some audience. Generally, I try to make a game i want to play, I think I know whats fun.

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