All you need is fun

Welcome gamers and players,

as I wrote, in my concept, Gamification has to be driver for accessing collective intelligence. This is really different from the term “gamification” as used today. So, in this conception you have to face a problem that usually in “gamification” is obscured.

The question is: are my games really funny?

It seems odd: obviously you have to make a funny game! If you simply take game mechanics into your website or business, this question is senseless: you don’t care about fun, you care about engagement.
However, if you are creating a game to respond to business requirement, making a funny game can be difficult. I can say, thank to my background focused on Role Playing (a kind of games where this question is difficult to solve, because this games usually have smooth rules and allow a wide variety of usage) that you can lose grip over your project, without the right amount of attention.

So, why to find out if games are funny? Anyone gets is own answer, and this make difference between different game-designer. Actually, there is not “procedure” that guarantee your game will be fun. However, there are some guidelines, that apply to a specific target or audience, that can help your game be successful.

A preliminary advice is to study gaming theory (Huizinga, for example) and surf the net for some tips and general advice (like this). This theory can help you to summarize and analytically test your work. Also, if you don’t master the way a game can generate engagement and fun, you take the risk of losing your target, also if you’ve got a very good written game.

Sometimes, a game need only a slight change to radically increase his success. If you know what are the common driver in participating a game, you will know how to choose and set up the specific driver for your game.

Then, how to test if you’re games are funny? There are only one way: playtesting. And a couple of golden rule to apply, for better result.

  1. Excluding the very first playtesting experience, never explain the game by yourself to playtester. If possible, never talk to playtester about it, at all. This “white sheet” approach is the best to find out how people approach your game: maybe you think it’s all about competition, but players take it as it is about simulation.
  2. Stress test – as possible, after the “blank” playtest, create some games where a single player is stressed as much as possible. This include take pacts between the others players, set up the game to disadvantage him and so on. Try to create the worst situation possible with your game, and check if it’s possible to have fun anyway, or if you need to add some rules or details to help players having fun also when things go bad (a very simple and useful strategy is to allow the worst player to have a crucial role in determining the winner).
  3. Someone or everyone? Try to figure out what’s the best for your game: wide-comprehensive dynamics which allow almost any player to join, or hard rules that set up a barrier for first playing? The higher the barrier, the more predictable will be the fun experience  player is seeking for: lower the barrier and you will have more casual gamers that could have any kind of interest in your games.
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