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Koster, A Theory of Fun Ch 5-8

Chapter 5:
“Ignore the fiction that wraps around the game,” is what Koster said about the roles of storylines in video games. Fancy graphics are for show and nothing more is the gist of this section of the book. Games are more about teaching mathematical problems/patterns than they are about telling stories. This is where we begin to see a division that tells us what games are really about. I’m not sure I agree so much with Koster when he talks about the quality lacking in the back story of games. I think that sometimes this can be what drives a player to a game. What about games like Prince of Persia? That took an immense amount of creativity to come up with the story.

Sometimes game stories are epic tales that become bigger than the actual game and spin off into fan-fiction etc. I was intrigued to read that games centered on ‘power fantasies’ were considered juvenile. I know 40yr old men that play games because it makes them feel powerful to dominate and opponent. I suppose this isn’t limited to age or even gender for that matter. Though Koster says games are not stories, I disagree. They are interactive stories and they are story driven.

Agenda Item:
“Fun as I define it, is the feedback that brain gives us when we are absorbing patterns for learning purpose.”-Koster

Chapter 6:
Apparently I have an empathizing brain...because I am a woman. Ok, I’ll accept that. I enjoyed the statement Koster made about girls playing ‘boy games’ growing out of traditional or stereotypical gender roles in their later years. This is important to me, having been on of those girls. Playing these types of games helps to make women more well rounded and gives them life experiences that ‘girl games’ simply cannot possess.

Chapter 7:
Cheating and cheat codes are an issue that I have never really had a second thought about before. I don’t have a problem with using these codes and I have in the past in order to beat a part of the game that I found impossible. I figure its better to use a cheat code and be able to keep playing then to not use one and give up on the game because it has suddenly become too hard. I agree with Koster that cheating is a winning strategy that need not be looked down upon by the likes of the so-called morally righteous. I never knew that most games had historically been head to head against another player because in a sense that player is unpredictable.

Koster says this is popular for game designers to work off of because there is a constant stream of puzzles available to keep new and different patterns coming to your hungry brain. This especially holds true in fighting games because the opponent (whether it be computer or human) does different moves each time. Note: Evenly matched opponents are best. I especially liked the cartoon on pg 127, and the way it represented a constant need for society to want a game that combines all the elements of fun games. The dance pad was a nice touch.

Chapter 8:
Even I have skipped the back story a few times to get to the meat of the game. Usually after I have seen it once that is enough for me. I know the goal of the game or particular level and don’t need to be seeing it a million times. I die or for some reason am forced to restart the game, clicking through the annoying story at the begining adds to my frustration with the game. In regard to players playing head to head and then quitting because they were inferior brings me to an example in my own family. My Dad likes to play games that he is sure he will do well in. If he doesn’t understand it then he can find it annoying, as would most people.

When we were younger I never beat him at a football, baseball or tennis game once, for any of our many gaming systems. But, when I got older this changed and the first time I beat him was on Playstation playing Tiger Woods Golf Classic. And I didn’t even like golf at the time. All I can say about playing the same type of character over and over is that I am too at fault for doing this. I’d like to refer to my experience playing Tony Hawk Pro-Skater. I always played the character of Elisa Steamer, because she was the only girl in the game. We gravitate towards what we know, right? Being in the zone “feels good.”

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