The Art of Play: What Makes Gaming Fun?

Nowadays, when a game developer is learning how to do their job, they are often asked to answer a very simple-sounding question; what is play? While this concept may sound simple, this idea is something which a lot of people find impossible to define, even when they are studying the field. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to make their games better, though. To achieve this, the focus has to be changed, instead thinking about what makes play fun. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the key techniques used by game developers to make their titles impossible to put down.

A Challenge: One of the biggest parts of this comes down to difficulty. There are loads of beautifully built titles out there which lack the ability keep their users entertained, and it can often be down to the way that the challenge in the game builds. If it starts too easy, people will quickly get bored, making it hard to keep them engaged. For games which are needlessly hard, though, it will be impossible to appeal to casual players.

The Immersion: Of course, not everyone plays video games for the challenge, though, with a lot of games being designed to tell a story or make you feel something. Immersion is a big part of this, with games which make you feel like you’re in the world you’re playing in achieving this goal perfectly. is a great example of this. Through a combination of music, highly interactive design, and snappy dialogue, users are thrown into a 2D world which feels more real than a lot of the big-budget games on the market.

Small Rewards: Everyone likes to feel like they are making progress when they play games, and one of the best ways to simulate this sort of achievement is through in-game collections. A lot of developers rely on giving users rewards, nowadays. While websites like are designed for this sort of system, it can be hard to swallow when similar principles are found within video games. It’s easy to create a microtransaction system for players which will get them hooked, but hard to make a game which is genuinely fun to play.

Risk: Finally, as the last area to consider, it’s time to think about risk. There are few things more engaging that working for hours at one thing in a game which you love, only to have to risk it all to move onto the next stage of their play. Of course, some games rely on this more than others, with classic Roguelike games forcing you to restart the fun if you make a single mistake. This is something which can be hard to balance with frustration, though, and this presents developers with a big challenge to overcome.

Hopefully, this post will give you a better understanding of what makes the games you play fun. A lot of work goes into researching this field, ensuring that each large game is better than the last. Of course, though, developers don’t always get it right, and games can often end up being boring in the process.




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