Short Exercise: MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

I’ve never been a big gamer, but one game that I can think of off the top of my head is (of course) Minecraft. A set of mechanics that create a dynamic that makes a certain kind of fun for me:

Mining & Crafting

The dynamic this set of mechanics creates: Challenge & Expression

A player has to mine resources like wood, stone, and ores to craft tools, weapons, and shelter to survive and progress in the game. This mechanic creates a challenge as the player has to balance resource gathering, crafting, and exploration. It also allows for self-expression as players can use their creativity to build their own structures and creations.

Exploration & Discovery

The dynamic this set of mechanics creates: Sensation & Fantasy

Minecraft’s world is procedurally generated, which means that each player has a unique experience when exploring the game’s world. The player can encounter various biomes, animals, and structures that make exploration exciting. This mechanic creates a sensation of discovery as the player uncovers new places and items. It also allows for a sense of fantasy as players can immerse themselves in the game’s world and imagine their own stories.

Survival & Combat

The dynamic this set of mechanics creates: Challenge & Fellowship

Minecraft has survival elements that require players to manage their health, hunger, and environmental hazards like monsters and fall damage. This mechanic creates a challenge as players have to balance their exploration and resource gathering with staying alive. It also allows for fellowship as players can team up to fight monsters or build communities to survive together.


Nicole Larazzo’s 4 Keys to Fun

Notice: I noticed that they are focused on the subjective experience of the player rather than specific game mechanics. Unlike the MDA approach, which categorizes fun based on the game mechanics and dynamics, Lazzaro’s approach is more holistic and takes into account the player’s emotional and psychological states.

Wonder: I wonder if they can be applied universally to all types of games or if they are specific to certain genres or player demographics. For example, a hardcore competitive gamer might not find relaxation or social interaction fun but instead might find meaning in personal growth through challenging gameplay.

Disagree with: I don’t necessarily disagree with Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to Fun but rather see them as complementary to the MDA approach. Both approaches offer different perspectives on what makes games fun and enjoyable for players, and combining them can provide a more comprehensive understanding of game design and player experience.

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