Short Exercise: MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun


  • Mechanics — rules and systems 
  • Dynamics – experientially play 
  • Aesthetics – underlying emotive reason we play the game

8 Kinds of Fun:

  1. Sensation 
  2. Fantasy 
  3. Narrative 
  4. Challenge 
  5. Fellowship
  6. Discovery 
  7. Expression 
  8. Submission


One of my favorite games since childhood is the desktop version of the Sims. The Sims best encapsulates the aesthetics of Fantasy, and I find enjoyment in the aesthetic element of Sense in the game as well. Some mechanics that the game creators use to achieve these aesthetics is the amazing  level of user customization available in Sims3 and beyond, specifically building every member of a family from scratch with complete customizability on features like hair color, eye color, skin color, body type, and more. While there is of course a reasonable limitation in what is available ‘out of the box’, there are expansion packs and online creator communities that provide a high ceiling of customization on things like personality traits, outfits, accessories, and even different types of species like pets. This seemingly endless world of customization lights a joy of creativity and allows me to ‘escape’ into the world I’ve created – thus fulfilling the “Fantasy” aesthetic. The game’s use of “Sense” facilitates this escapism through the lack of a real language or popular music — the world is close to being human but in abstracting away elements of sense like speech and music that could remind the player of their everyday life, the player can remain in a state of private escapism and self-creation. 

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