« Ex 1C: Game Review (Final) | Main | Space Invader Links »

Koster, A Theory of Fun (Foreword to Chapter 4)

Well someone must be on my side because when I checked my mailbox at 5p.m. it was full goodies. Both Groundhog Day and “A Theory” were there waiting to be opened and used. I was about to tear the U.S. postal service a new one if they didn’t arrive soon. But, without any further delay here is what I thought about Raph Koster’s book. Initial reaction: I love it! I actually thought it was entertaining to read and very personal. The pictures are wonderful and hilarious, and they match everything he is talking about. I enjoyed his very in depth descriptions and found them highly relatable to my own experiences with gaming. In the Foreword we again see the idea presented of video games being more than a form of entertainment, but rather an art form. (JWEB Ex: W2B) When Koster said he was “making games rather than contributing to society,” I knew this was going to later be refuted. One concept in the book the I found to be very valid was: playing and learning through playing.

Chapter 1:
There was a lot about the human brain as well as the ability to learn that I never realized until reading this book. For instance, we become naturally bored by a game that we master or quit it once we feel inept or challenged. This reminded me of my experience with Interactive Fiction. The fun factor just wasn’t happening for me, despite a noble effort. Koster’s book helps find some semblance of a definition for the word fun and also the word game. We know now that fun and games go hand in hand, even though no definition states such a thing. I specifically recall the quoted definition from Sid Meier on pg 14.

Agenda Item:“Fun is a series of meaningful choices.”
I do not at all agree with this definition. I don’t know if at this point in time I can put this much meaning into a game.

In regard to brain patterns, I did find the image of pac-man eating tasty brain patterns rather amusing. Another observation; our brains do a lit of things subconsciously. When Koster talked about memorization being a large part of gaming this struck a deep chord with me. In the eighth grade my class attended a lecture given by Ben Carson. We had just finished reading his book Gifted Hands. He said that if your brain really had to it could in fact remember every person you ever met. This was so hard for me to comprehend and ‘wrap my head around’ at the time, but now it makes more sense. Maybe I am just a little dense, but I have a question to pose. If noise is any pattern we don’t understand, then why do I hate the sound of a vacuum cleaner and consider it noise? I understand it, in the conscious, but not in the subconscious? Thats where it starts to get a little deep.

Chapter 2-3:
Grokking = mastery. When the brain is really into something, we practice it in our sleep and that just makes me wonder about too many non-video game related things. I guess I need to read a book on dreams. Lol. I agree the games often exist in a world all their own, and this is for the best. Sometimes tying to fathom some of these surreal creations in games is too much for someone to perceive as being part of this existence. I enjoyed the quote: “our brains are on drugs all the time.” I found the idea of games as teaching devices interesting. What is the market like for educationally based games? I remember in school we played them in the lower grades to learn reading and math. What about today? Aren’t they mostly PC based rather than for any gaming systems?

Chapter 4:
I was relieved to find out that after years of gaming I was actually learning through out the entire process. I mean it’s really amazing. Tetris taught us spatial reasoning, Poker taught us about odds, and Super Mario Brothers 3 taught us about exploration and memory at the same time. In particular I remember the card matching game the Mario/Luigi had to play where you match a flower = flower, or a 1up = 1up and the cards never moved, it was all memory. Love that part of the game. Playing games is about learning life altering skills and that is awesome.

End Note: If games are childish then I guess I am a child..=)

Comments (3)

Great stuff, Leslie!

I'm glad you liked Koster's book as much as I did. I'm going to enjoy watching everyone's defintions of "fun" and "game" develop as we dive into deeper readings.

Awesome-ness-ism! In your analysis of chatpers 2 and 3, you said about the brain working through the activies we did that day. Well this is very prevelent to my experiences with games. After 8-10 hours of gaming, my brain cannot let go of the action. When I sleep the games are worked out in my sleep. This in relation to "education" makes it seem that educational games would be incredible for child(in moderation). The typical game running through my head at night just bothers me since it has deeper meaning at that time. But if it was math or critical analysis or spanish, this interaction with sleep might prove to be an exceptional learning tool.

Leslie Rodriguez:

Have you ever though about subliminal messages being projected through regularly played video games? Like maybe when you dream these games you dream the messages. Well, thats a little conspiracy theory for you Puff.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 4, 2006 7:04 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Ex 1C: Game Review (Final).

The next post in this blog is Space Invader Links.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.