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Ex 1: Koster Overview

Koster's book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design is one that I would highly reccomed to anyone interested in learning the fundamental concepts surrounding gaming as a means of entertainment as well as teaching tools. He uses examples from not only traditional video games, but from other types of games such as board, multiplayer and card. The topics which Koster discusses branch off into many fields and for that reason it would be appropriate to use this book in both psychology and education classes.

I agreed strongly with the definition that Koster used to describe a medium: “formal abstract model for teaching patterns.” Learning and playing games is all about memorizing patterns. Its like when you play a game so much that you don't even think about it anymore. There are some people that can beat Super Mario Brothers 3 for the Nintendo (NES) system in a little under 5 minutes. Those people have memorized the patterns of the game so well that it has become effortless for them to play it. The current world record without any items stands at 5 minutes and 6 seconds, while the fastest tool-assisted speedrun completes the game in 4 minutes, 59.6 seconds.

The main theme that I have taken away from the book is that games are an amazing tool with a great amount of power and even more potential then we know. In order for games to reach their full potential, like most things, we have to believe that they are capable of doing so and give them the credit they have been denied for so many years. There really is no distinction between art and entertainment that I can see, therefore games are both art and entertainment.

Koster does not praise all the games which are on the current market but he does make us think about what they really represent. The point of games is to teach people something they might have not learned in another situation. For visual learners the use of games is imperative for them to understand concepts that they might not comprehend in other forms.

Comments (1)

Holy crap. You mean, people beat games that quickly?! Maybe that's why my brother can pulverize the Windows Solitaire game in like 46 seconds... You know--the cards all fly everywhere and his score is like my score to the 54th power? Yeah.

That is some impressive stuff. So it is patterns, isn't it? Are we talking patterns like that Memory Game where you have to find the pairs? (I was never any good at that game either, surprise surprise.)

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