I’ve speculated a great deal on what makes fun, having so much of it without trying. For this reason, I’m always present as an observer of reality, whichever one I’m currently existing in. I continue my search for this unattainable truth, on foolish premise I may walk away with a definitive answer. Perhaps the reason games work so well is that indelible vastness of working design. Fun has no beginning nor end, and can be the difference of a running joke and a dead hooker.
As just noted, the equation can be of absurd measure. The two great examples just previously mentioned exist as such, speaking of course in regards to Sonic the Hedgehog and Grand Theft Auto. Both, in many respective gaming circles, considered to be the top o’ the line in terms of fun factor. As a note, I refer to the original trilogy on the Genesis for Sonics’ sake, but I’m sure you were already leaving behind the possibility of the more recent Sonic games as a running joke.
Sonic and GTA have very different speeds, aims, and purposes. Hell, the two experiences even possess a different number of dimensions, and they still have that commonality I speak of. This beating heart of game design that perpetuates a flow of entertaining momentum. Spin Dash, loop de loop, fly through the air. Steal car, pick up Hooker, retrieve the money with a bat.
Both having some innate humor about them, a practical joke pulled by The Devil followed by your last laugh.
Maybe this perplexity I draw analysis from is intrinsically linked to my sense of style. Most games operate on this heavy reliability of player involvement, and I speak beyond just the simple action of command inputs. A perception of what’s going on, how to solve a problem, the interpretation of what’s worth striving for, all in the sense of finality. The final goal usually representing the end of fun.
I thusly include myself as heavy flaw in a robust theory, another contradictory piece of an already solved puzzle. Perhaps, my problem with analyzing design is my impossibly involved nature. Maybe to some, the idea of a swinging bat or blasting right past is already apparent. The product of a players self posed question, the thrill of them answering with their own curiosity.
A strong suit of this medium, may in fact be it’s rhetorical mindfulness. When creating a game, fun, and by essence, what’s funny, plays major factor. From the beginnings of Crash Bandicoot, to the ends of Silent Hill, humor can persist a certain truth. When you end up with a good idea becoming real, you’ll often find it often starts as a joke.
Design may just be funny that way.