Measuring Fun

The other day an article on Gamasutra said that the key to avoiding, or at least minimising, crunch on a project was to find the fun before you launch into full production. This, of course, is exactly the approach we take here, and frankly I can’t think why you’d do it any other way.

But one common question we tend to get asked is ‘how do you judge what fun actually is’?

‘Fun’ is a very nebulous concept (most often described as “I know it when I see it”), and what I find fun and what you find fun could well be wildly different. That doesn’t mean the games I like are somehow intrinsically better than the games you like. They’re just different.

So, you have to define what fun means for you. How do you measure it? I’m not saying you can necessarily quantify it with numbers, but it is possible.

Take 5 or 6 of your favourite games, and play them. As you play them, ask yourself questions. Why do I like that? Why did I find that bit cool? Why does that thing bug me so much? Why am I glad I spent my time and/or money on this?

Once you’ve done that, look for the patterns. You’ll likely spot common themes and aspects that you liked and disliked. Keep doing that, and you’ll end up with a set of pretty strong guidelines and considerations to use when you’re making your own game.

They may or may not match our own list, but that’s OK. Different people like different things, and it’s impossible to second-guess what anyone other than yourself actually wants.

Our belief is that we’re not beautiful and unique snowflakes; chances are, there are others (hopefully many, many others) out there who have similar tastes to us who will also find our games fun.

-David (@dwlt)