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Theory of Fun for Game Design [Paperback]

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Item description for Theory of Fun for Game Design by Ralph Koster & Raph Koster...

Discusses the essential elements in creating a successful game, how playing games and learning are connected, and what makes a game boring or fun.

Publishers Description
A "Theory of Fun for Game Design is not your typical how-to book. It features a novel way of teaching interactive designers how to create and improve their designs to incorporate the highest degree of fun. As the book shows, designing for fun is all about making interactive products like games highly entertaining, engaging, and addictive. The book's unique approach of providing a highly visual storyboard approach combined with a narrative on the art and practice of designing for fun is sure to be a hit with game and interactive designers, At first glance A "Theory of Fun for Game Design is a book that will truly inspire and challenge game designers to think in new was; however, its universal message will influence designers from all walks of life. This book captures the real essence of what drives us to seek out products and experiences that are truly fun and entertaining. The author masterfully presents his engaging theory by showing readers how many designs are lacking because they are predictable and not engaging enough. He then explains how great designers use different types of elements in new ways to make designs more fun and compelling. Anyone who is interested in design will enjoy how the book works on two levels--as a quick inspiration guide to game design, or as an informative discussion that details the insightful thinking from a great mind in the game industry.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   244
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 9" Height: 6.75"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 6, 2004
Publisher   Paraglyph
ISBN  1932111972  
ISBN13  9781932111972  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ralph Koster & Raph Koster

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Raph Koster is a veteran game designer who has been professionally credited in almost every area of the game industry. He's been the lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies; and he's contributed writing, art, soundtrack music, and programming to many more titles ranging from Facebook games to single-player titles for handheld consoles. He has worked as a creative executive at Sony Online and Disney Playdom, and in 2012 was honored as an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online.

Raph Koster currently resides in San Diego, in the state of California. Raph Koster was born in 1971.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Computer Science & Information Systems > Graphics & Visualization
2Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Computer Science & Information Systems > Software Design & Engineering
3Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Computer & Video Games
4Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Computer Science > Software Engineering
5Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Graphics & Illustration > General
6Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Programming > General
7Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Programming > Graphics & Multimedia
8Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Programming > Software Design > Software Development
9Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Games > General
10Books > Subjects > Entertainment > Games > Video & Electronic Games

Reviews - What do customers think about Theory of Fun for Game Design?

A Fun Perspective on Fun  Aug 30, 2008
Koster has written an incredible book that cannot help but cover game design. The question of "fun" has baffled the game design community for years: it's an unquantifiable concept a designer succeeds at capturing more reliably with luck (and experience) than anything else. This book provides one of the first steps away from that.

For those who harangue the book because of the title, it's worth reading the Foreword, written by Will Wright.

To explain fun, Koster does not bother pretending to live in an ivory tower. He opens the doors to his life and allows you to connect with him as you ponder his ideas. Fun is difficult to disconnect from games, especially since that's his field, so he explains games, too. The result is a narrative, not a white paper: he brings you into his shoes and takes you on a journey, giving you contextual background before (How Brains Work) his central thesis and after (Ethics of Game Design).

The book is not a be-all, end-all "Definitive Guide to Fun". It's a provocation and a challenge, to game designers, to game theorists, and even to gamers. It's meant to make you think, not hold your hand. My favorite moment with the book was when I didn't have it: I loaned it to a roommate, who came back a week later completely stunned, complaining that it had made sense and had gotten him thinking. He plays rugby and Madden, mostly.

You won't find 12 steps to make your game fun, nor will you have any idea how to make a game after you read it, if you didn't before. But when you play a game, and you have fun, now you have somewhere to start in understanding why. And if another game bores you to tears, you may be able to figure out how to improve it.

The book is not about games. It's about gamers: about people. Because people have fun, and they sometimes even do it while gaming. And this book is about why.
A fascinating primer on how we enjoy ourselves  Dec 16, 2007
I should start out by mentioning that I'm reviewing this book from more of a general knowledge standpoint than a purely video game related one.

A lot of other reviews have mentioned that there aren't many practical tips in this book, which is true, but that's why it's a theory of fun and not a handbook of rules. Theories pull basic meanings & principles out of a vast, murky subject that can later evolve into practical uses, in this case for video games or any other artistic medium.

The author breaks down our sense of enjoyment into more manageable & understandable categories, like social and aesthetic satisfactions. But the bulk of the book covers the enjoyment that comes from learning patterns and overcoming challenges, which he defines as "fun."

Although fun as Koster defines it is most evident in video games, the enjoyment that comes from learning and figuring things out could just as easily apply to a mystery novel as a puzzle game. Having a firm understanding of "fun" as well as the other types of enjoyment could benefit any artistic pursuit.

Another fascinating concept in "Theory of Fun" is the idea that all artforms become more and more complex until only a dedicated few can master it, at which point the artform either dies off or is reinvented to better suit the masses. This concept could explain the recent rise of the Wii, with its simple, accessible approach to games over more complex systems.

All in all, "A Theory of Fun for Game Design" isn't just ideas on how to build a better video game mousetrap, but a basic intro on enjoyment so we can hopefully learn to create work that's enjoyable for others.
Self-absorbed designer angst  Oct 9, 2007
There is actually a theory of fun buried in the book, but the time spent developing the theory is minimal. The rest of the book seems to be all about trying to justify choosing game design as a career. Geez! It's fun and you get paid. 'nuff said on that topic.
Excelent Book  Sep 14, 2007
This is one of my first books i bought here at this site.
Im From Argentina and im studying Game Develop & Design. It is really good to read this kind of book because it really helps me on my develop here where the industry is staring recently.

It is an EXCELENT Book. It really acomplish everything i was looking for. It did, also, provide me a new sight of some matters when referring to Game Design.

I do disagree in some explications on the book but it is only my personal opinion and it doesn't make the book worst or anything.

It's a "HAD to HAVE.." book in your bookshelf.

Congratulations on the Writter!!

Required Reading, but not a Bible  Sep 9, 2007
Koster's presentation makes the book extremely accessible, but still quite in-depth. He covers all the necessary ground.

His theory does not venture far from previous work, but in sticking to accepted dogma, he offers a fairly comprehensive and clear compilation of ideas. This is what makes the book a good read for anyone looking for a foundation in theory related to games.

I found that many ideas in the first half of the book to be over-simplified. Though most issues are readdressed in the second half, his dual presentation created a sense of contradiction. Some early implications are later negated.

Koster also involves a bit much of his own tastes and artistic ethics. This is primarily in the latter portions of the book, but it was enough to turn me off. He goes into some description of how games "should" be, the responsibility of the designer, etc. That may be interesting to some, but I prefer to determine my own principles.

Theory of Fun would do well as required reading for anyone seeking an education in game design, and could be useful to anyone in art, but if you've already covered the field of theory, you may not be too impressed. Still, it's an easy read and rewarding.

I also suggest this book to anyone looking at games from the outside, anyone not involved in production or consumption. It can give the layman a good look into a new world and maybe close some generation gaps. Theory of Fun may be what we need to mail to our representatives to keep them from judging games to hastily.

-Chris Rock

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