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[PATV] Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 8: Beyond Fun

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited October 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub

image[PATV] Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 5, Ep. 8: Beyond Fun

This week, we explain why games shouldn't be constrained exclusively to "Fun".
Come discuss this topic in the forums!

Read the full story here


Dog on
«13

Posts

  • ThalesnmThalesnm Registered User regular
    This deserves a second part.

  • DasBoomerDasBoomer Registered User
    Now I kinda wanna see James Portnow running around in bright pink slotted shades...

  • AlerilAleril Registered User
    > Duke Nukem Forever
    > Fun

    Choose one.

    Shadowen
  • doomed1doomed1 Registered User new member
    As much as I agree we shouldn't limit ourselves to one thing, I think you guys are presenting a solution without a problem. When we say "fun" we don't mean the dictionary definition of "fun". Remember, language is as varied as you claim the potential of video games to be, so to limit yourself with the most simplistic meaning of a term is uncharacteristic of you guys. Silent Hill is FUN. This isn't because it deals with positive subject matter or engages you in a positive, player enabling way, it's fun because it's ENTERTAINING. Actually, you did define fun as Entertaining or Enjoyable, so why limit the definition of fun to entertainment via positive enabling? Engagement entertains a player, an entertaining game is fun, qed, an engaging game is a fun game.

    Now, I know you already know this. The question should be not what, but why. Yes, focus on a game to make something more "fun" is probably a bad idea when your definition of fun is as narrow as the one you guys proposed in this video, but that's an argument of semantics. Suda Goichi's stuff simply doesn't engage a lot of people. You falsely attributed Contact to him (that's Akira Ueda's work), but I'll use it as a reference point. The game isn't for everyone. It doesn't engage everyone. Even though there are some really impressive and engaging ideas in it, some that make you really wonder as you play through the game, the way you get to it isn't for everyone. It's at best clunky and at other times forgiving. The systems it uses feel like they were fleshed out half-way. I love the game, but it's a product of its shoestring budget and its obtuse, quirky attitude, and in the end, that doesn't make money and Contact flopped. The best way to communicate a clear idea is through smooth, interactive engagement with that idea. Yes, sometimes that means a game is going to be a bit brutally difficult or in some way clunky and unwieldy. However, you need to create engagement in other areas to keep entertainment and maximize, yes I'm going to say it, Fun.

    So for future videos, I implore you to avoid semantics. Yes, it is annoying to see someone say "I only want to be empowered in video games so I think Silent Hill sucks", but ultimately, that person isn't being engaged by that experience, even though many others are. You see when someone says in some board meeting at a game developer "we need to make the game more fun", they don't mean "we need to make the player feel like frolicking through fields of wildflowers", they mean they need the game to be more engaging. Sometimes this does mean making the player feel positive and empowered, but that's not the only way to make a game fun, and most people understand this. All that's required for something to be fun is for hindsight opinion to be positive. I remember when I read Shakespeare's Macbeth for the first time. I thought Macbeth was a cool dude at first, but by the time I reached the end, I was so furious at his character, I was cheering at his death (lol spoilers). I look back on that experience positively, even though I was angry. I had FUN. Weird, huh?

    So, like I said, Please! avoid semantics, focus on the concepts. That's where you guys really shine. You're not engaging me when you give such a small frame to big abstract concepts. I get that you guys define something in order to properly talk about it, which is why semantics is just a bad choice of subject. I've written you a paper I see. No matter, I'll be done. Good luck anyway guys. Keep on trucking.

  • nofalloutheronofallouthero Registered User new member
    hey im in before everyone starts saying they are trying to ruin games forever

  • FalxFalx Registered User regular
    doomed1 wrote: »
    As much as I agree we shouldn't limit ourselves to one thing, I think you guys are presenting a solution without a problem. When we say "fun" we don't mean the dictionary definition of "fun". Remember, language is as varied as you claim the potential of video games to be, so to limit yourself with the most simplistic meaning of a term is uncharacteristic of you guys. Silent Hill is FUN. This isn't because it deals with positive subject matter or engages you in a positive, player enabling way, it's fun because it's ENTERTAINING. Actually, you did define fun as Entertaining or Enjoyable, so why limit the definition of fun to entertainment via positive enabling? Engagement entertains a player, an entertaining game is fun, qed, an engaging game is a fun game.

    Now, I know you already know this. The question should be not what, but why. Yes, focus on a game to make something more "fun" is probably a bad idea when your definition of fun is as narrow as the one you guys proposed in this video, but that's an argument of semantics. Suda Goichi's stuff simply doesn't engage a lot of people. You falsely attributed Contact to him (that's Akira Ueda's work), but I'll use it as a reference point. The game isn't for everyone. It doesn't engage everyone. Even though there are some really impressive and engaging ideas in it, some that make you really wonder as you play through the game, the way you get to it isn't for everyone. It's at best clunky and at other times forgiving. The systems it uses feel like they were fleshed out half-way. I love the game, but it's a product of its shoestring budget and its obtuse, quirky attitude, and in the end, that doesn't make money and Contact flopped. The best way to communicate a clear idea is through smooth, interactive engagement with that idea. Yes, sometimes that means a game is going to be a bit brutally difficult or in some way clunky and unwieldy. However, you need to create engagement in other areas to keep entertainment and maximize, yes I'm going to say it, Fun.

    So for future videos, I implore you to avoid semantics. Yes, it is annoying to see someone say "I only want to be empowered in video games so I think Silent Hill sucks", but ultimately, that person isn't being engaged by that experience, even though many others are. You see when someone says in some board meeting at a game developer "we need to make the game more fun", they don't mean "we need to make the player feel like frolicking through fields of wildflowers", they mean they need the game to be more engaging. Sometimes this does mean making the player feel positive and empowered, but that's not the only way to make a game fun, and most people understand this. All that's required for something to be fun is for hindsight opinion to be positive. I remember when I read Shakespeare's Macbeth for the first time. I thought Macbeth was a cool dude at first, but by the time I reached the end, I was so furious at his character, I was cheering at his death (lol spoilers). I look back on that experience positively, even though I was angry. I had FUN. Weird, huh?

    So, like I said, Please! avoid semantics, focus on the concepts. That's where you guys really shine. You're not engaging me when you give such a small frame to big abstract concepts. I get that you guys define something in order to properly talk about it, which is why semantics is just a bad choice of subject. I've written you a paper I see. No matter, I'll be done. Good luck anyway guys. Keep on trucking.

    >makes the exact same point EC made
    >swaps out every instance of "engaging" with "fun."
    >begs them to avoid semantics

    ok buddy

  • telpscoreitelpscorei Registered User
    I kinda wish this episode had focussed a bit more on games that actual do that. I mean I got the fun / engaging thing pretty early on, and then it felt a little like they just hammered that point home. Maybe it's just me, but I would have preferred them showing some examples like Pathologic, and delving in a little further on how we can make games more engaging.

    HarbingerOfDuhran88dom99
  • greenstonekidgreenstonekid Registered User
    edited October 2012
    I think this episode articulates what people feel when they say that nintendo has forgotten about hardcore gamers. nintendo is the best maker of "fun" games and I am not saying that they need to make a call of duty mario. however they don't really produce games that engage in a way outside of being well crafted fun games. As an example I can't tell you how many people I know that have wanted a pokemon game with a real fleshed out narrative behind it.

    greenstonekid on
  • ShadowenShadowen Snores in the morning Registered User regular
    If we're going to get semantical, I think the issue might be "game", not "fun". "Fun" is inherently a subset of "game".

    You mentioned Planescape: Torment, for example. That's more of an interactive animated novel. (Seriously, there's like 2 million words in the game and most of it isn't dialog.) In fact, as a game, it's arguably not very good. The combat is frankly painful at times, the engine is really not intended for the type of play presented, etc...but like you said, Torment is engaging as all hell.

  • Vinnie555Vinnie555 Registered User regular
    @doomed1 Way to completely miss the point. Whilst you may have some strange and incredibly inclusive definition of the word 'fun' the industry, and to be honest the world at large, does not. As they stated in the video 'fun' means light hearted pleasure or amusement, it is not a catch all for anything engaging, or even entertaining. I personally have been in meetings with producers where we have been directed to change and simplify core mechanics, or alter plot elements, because it will make the game more 'fun', not better, not more engaging ( often quite the opposite ), but simply more 'fun'. This is a problem in the industry, and it is heavily tied up in the "games as Art", and "games are for children" debates, so please don't try and dismiss it just because you have some strange idea of what 'fun' means.

    To put this into context for you, would you consider "City of God" to be a fun film?

  • Ignus3Ignus3 Registered User regular
    This actually fits into a discussion I was having with myself recently. "Good" does not have to be everywhere all the time in a game or novel to make it enjoyable. In fact, the more oppressive, dark, evil, and just downright horrible the situation is, the stronger the human spirit responds to that in the form of hope. This is a facet of what the video is talking about, but from the perspective of adventure games or any game with a traditionally defined "hero" the darkness of the world around him/her makes his/her light shine that much brighter.

    The thing I really liked about fable 3 was this feeling of rising up against evil and tyranny. And even as you progress, and get stronger, the storyline sets your character back, you get trapped, attacked, you lose multiple times.

    This ties into challenge as well. Like in X COM, the inherent challenge -makes- every accomplishment worthwhile. getting a good rating from the council is from a tremendous amount of effort, and it never comes easy. Actual triumph, whether told through the game's story, or, in something games have a unique power to do, through the use of the player's own brain and skills in overcoming extreme obstacles.

    Failure, loss, regret, all these things make achievement better. Success without failure is hollow, Gains (such as houses, space ships, godhood) without loss either before or after feel contrite, and victory without some element of regret makes you feel like it was all destined and you had no power to change the outcome.

    In mass effect, even a successful commander likely lost a crew member or two. Knowing you did everything as well as you could, the mission went off, but still feeling the effect of those losses keenly is what made that moment so great. The poignant, bittersweet victory.

    In summary: The hero's light shines brightest in the darkness.

  • NecroxNecrox Registered User regular
    I feel a bit like an outsider to this episode.
    It seems like a very specific, semantic and internal communication issue which may be relevant to developers and publishers, rather than something of real relevance to the consumer (ie. something actionable for us, or of any interest what so ever for us). Perhaps this could be a GDC talk instead?

    I've never ever heard anyone talk about a game they've played which they liked and called it fun when it was (for example) a Silent Hill type game. They may say good, amazing or awesome, but they rarely use the word "fun" unless they had fun. I've also never known anyone to demand more fun from a game, if it was clearly designed not to be so (again, lets take Silent Hill). The people I've heard complain about titles like that have complained that "horror is not their thing", for example.

    I'm a HUGE fan of Extra Credits because they lay bare a lot of the bones and grander issues in game design/production, so we gamers can gain some insight into that world. But this episode feels more like "loading trucks with the game boxes are a big issue in our small warehouses"; an issue which may be very real to a publisher, but of very little interest, consequence and relevance to the gamer.

  • Metal BMetal B Registered User
    edited October 2012
    EC-Team, i really love your show, still i believe you use the wrong word here. In the same way the industry uses the word "fun" wrong. The feeling "fun" is created from your mind and body, if you successfully learn something or use successfully learned skills or information to your advance. What you are talking about is "good feeling" and "bad feeling" experience. You can have fun with both type of experience.
    Only "bad feeling" experience need much more work from the audience to turn them into fun, but also can become much more useful in the long term. This is the problem many people have with "bad feeling" experience, beside people of course do not want to feel bad purposely. It is the process, when you think about the experience or talk about it with other people. At some point everything makes sense, you learn something, the bad feeling goes way and it is fun (i especially have also fun just talking with people about such themes and you got to know such people better (=learning about people)). But most people don't wanna spend that extra time and avoid such themes (you have to spend time with it or it bugs you a lot.) Especially with kids since it can have a lasting effect on them and people are so lazy, that they much more try to hide there kids away from such themes instead of simply talking with them over it.
    That is why "good feeling" experience are so much easier to sell. You have "fun" in the time of the media and you mostly do not need additional time after it ends. The problem here is, that "good feelings" have just a limit selection of things to teach. Sometimes people know all the common "fun" parts of "good feeling" experience and stuff becomes dull. Strangely enough people still are more afraid of "bad feeling" experience, even if they are much more fun and teach much more important or new things, that they will still much more likely experiences such products. You only need to make yourself dumber (the infamous "turn your brain off").

    Also people will mostly never name the fun feeling of "bad feeling" experience "fun", since the word feels inappropriate (a problem of language). People would call it much more "fascination" or "deep", even so it all simply a process of learning, which in return creates "fun".

    A media simply needs a big enough audience to sell this niche product to a specific target group. Movies did not start with dramas, it start with comedies. Games now are big enough to sell such products to people, even so it will never be the products with the most sold copies. It is simply not part of the common human nature.

    Metal B on
  • JinxstarJinxstar Registered User
    I think maybe your looking at the word fun as meaning "silly" or "childish". When all it means is enjoyable. If a video game is not enjoyable I wont play it. Sure Hamlet is a great book, It has been printed and translated more then any other book except the bible. Still there is an audience for it and 5-40 something middle class average work-a-day/school-a-day folk who just want to come home and relax usually don't pick up Hamlet, Heart of Darkness, etc... They pick up Spiderman issue 532, the latest cosmo or otherwise.

    Try putting the word "fun" into a Thesaurus. Not looking up the definition and maybe it will clear things up a bit. Amusing, Pleasant, Enjoyable. With antonyms being bad, unfun, unhappy, woeful... and the antonym for the main entry being boredom... Boredom does not sell.

    I know you guys want video games to represent art and expression but many already do that. Either through simple Easter eggs or trying something different. The problem is almost every time they try something different they lose money... a single author/publisher don't need a whole lot of money. They can risk having a flop and even if their book only sells 70,000 copies that can be a massive success in the eyes of many. If a video game sells 70,000 That is a lot of people looking for work and a lot of investors who will shy away from artsy games...

    We have indie developers who make some great art. You have shown us a lot of it yourselves. I enjoy almost all of it. Why doesn't that satisfy you? Why do you need 50 million dollar budgets on art? Doesn't that many chefs spoil the artistic soup? Isn't that why indie developers like Mojang, John Blow, and Phil Fish are so revered in their circles? It's almost like your trying to sell art to the masses... doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of art. It is supposed to speak to individuals on their own level. Speak to those who get it...

  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    You all know what the EC crew is saying, you all seem to agree with it, so how about you all stop arguing about vocabluary and pretending that that's adding anything to the conversation?

    Seriously, they use a different definition for their theme words sometimes (just as they did with "Abnegation") so how about we get over that fact?

    TheMadSpinIntotheSky
  • RyanGattsRyanGatts Registered User new member
    I feel like some of the commenters are coming at this video from the wrong perspective to understand the intent. The idea of whether or not a game is "fun" (or the definition of what fun is) is not important to the consumer. It is, however, vitally important when it comes to actually getting a game made. When you're talking to people who care about things like "demographics" and "monetization" you need to have semantics on your side.

    If those guys want "fun", because "fun" sells. If you are ever going to get a game made that is engaging instead of fun, you need to be able to talk the talk. You need other words to use to describe why the game you want to make will be good and successful and make butt-loads of money for its investors.

    No one has ever watched Hamlet, and earnestly said: "what a fun play that was".

    Suffering, loss, sadness, vindication, revelation. These things are not "fun" even if you define fun as vaguely as "amusing", "good-feeling", or "pleasant". Hell, boredom can be an important part of a game too! Just look at the opening to Half LIfe, or the lengthy travel segments of Shadow of the Colossus. Those are not thrilling, or even amusing, but they are sure-as-shit important and evocative. Game makers - not players - need this terminology to justify investment.

    That said, we as consumers also need to try to use less fun-based descriptions of games. If we only ever talk about fun, that's all the investors who fund games will see us talk about. They will think it's all we care about, and that's the only type of game they'll help make (and they'll use their own definition of fun; not yours).

    That last paragraph is probably the most important part. Read that ^

  • RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    Necrox wrote: »
    I feel a bit like an outsider to this episode.
    It seems like a very specific, semantic and internal communication issue which may be relevant to developers and publishers, rather than something of real relevance to the consumer (ie. something actionable for us, or of any interest what so ever for us). Perhaps this could be a GDC talk instead?

    I've never ever heard anyone talk about a game they've played which they liked and called it fun when it was (for example) a Silent Hill type game. They may say good, amazing or awesome, but they rarely use the word "fun" unless they had fun. I've also never known anyone to demand more fun from a game, if it was clearly designed not to be so (again, lets take Silent Hill). The people I've heard complain about titles like that have complained that "horror is not their thing", for example.

    I'm a HUGE fan of Extra Credits because they lay bare a lot of the bones and grander issues in game design/production, so we gamers can gain some insight into that world. But this episode feels more like "loading trucks with the game boxes are a big issue in our small warehouses"; an issue which may be very real to a publisher, but of very little interest, consequence and relevance to the gamer.

    If you need an example where consumers do nothing but "find the fun" in a game that isn't supposed to be fun, just read the comment threads for the Spec Ops videos. They are full of "sure the story may be engaging and challenging but since the gameplay is clunky it's not worth my time." In fact, I'm pretty sure Spec Ops was the reason they decided to make this video.
    I think maybe your looking at the word fun as meaning "silly" or "childish". When all it means is enjoyable. If a video game is not enjoyable I wont play it. Sure Hamlet is a great book, It has been printed and translated more then any other book except the bible. Still there is an audience for it and 5-40 something middle class average work-a-day/school-a-day folk who just want to come home and relax usually don't pick up Hamlet, Heart of Darkness, etc... They pick up Spiderman issue 532, the latest cosmo or otherwise.

    You seem to be assuming that video games always fill the niche of "something 5-40 year-olds do to relax". I like video games as a detox, just like I like movies and books as a detox. But there are movies that I love that would never be my first choice when I'm exhausted after work. Some fantastic movies, books, and games are either mentally or emotionally draining. But as long as there's a good payoff (not necessarily a happy or fun one, but some worthwhile message so it's not just depressing for the sake of depressing) the experience is worth it.

  • BlueThiefZeroBlueThiefZero Registered User regular
    Where I get hung up in the difference between "Fun" and "Enjoyable."

    I thought that RyanGatts had a good point when he said
    RyanGatts wrote: »
    No one has ever watched Hamlet, and earnestly said: "what a fun play that was".

    But at the same time I thought "Well I did enjoy that play, I had fun watching it, and if one of my friends were to ask me if there was anything fun to do I would be certain to say 'we could go watch Hamlet preformed by Shakespeare in The Park."

    I don't understand how something can be enjoyable, engaging, but not fun. Hell, I would even say that people who read sad books or watch sad movies do so because they like that feeling of emotion and have fun being sad.

  • JinxstarJinxstar Registered User
    "You seem to be assuming that video games always fill the niche of "something 5-40 year-olds do to relax". I like video games as a detox, just like I like movies and books as a detox. But there are movies that I love that would never be my first choice when I'm exhausted after work. Some fantastic movies, books, and games are either mentally or emotionally draining. But as long as there's a good payoff (not necessarily a happy or fun one, but some worthwhile message so it's not just depressing for the sake of depressing) the experience is worth it."

    I would not think of anyone 5-40 years old and middle class a niche really... a single game can have a niche audience. Games in general are a niche as facebook or movie goer's.

    I agree with having choice. However, as I go on to say, that's a small market. Hence small dev's handle that niche. I would venture to say that most people though don't want art. That's why Transformers makes so much money in theaters and the tree of life didn't.... People, in general, want dumb fun. Not mentally tasking games like heavy rain or point and click adventures. Those games exist though and are great for those who like them.

    I guess I A. Don't really understand the complaint because there are tons of games out there that are art. and B. If it's not about art but about "fun" but about intrepid woeful misery then whats the point? as I said before the antonyms aren't appealing and it wouldn't sell...

  • chamberlainchamberlain Registered User regular
    This was a pointless episode.

    'Games should do this!'

    Gives several examples of games that are doing this.

    'Why aren't games doing this?!'

    ArchsorcererThe_Ulfbrento73rembrandtqeinstein
  • Fungus555Fungus555 Registered User
    I've often felt that music is largely held back by the same constraints. Even supposedly "dark" popular styles such as various types of metal seek to offer what's ultimately pleasant excitement. For the most part, we want music we can dance to, jump around to, or put on in the background for relaxation (as is the case with most of the albums in my library). A much smaller number of artists produce music which strikes me as genuinely sombre, moody, aggressive, contemplative, or anything else outside of simple pleasure.

    In the end, though, I think that music has more leeway than games in terms of tone. An album of purely "un-fun" music can still see an international release, even if it won't go platinum. I suppose expectation plays a part in it. Most people can appreciate books and films that do something other than amuse us. A smaller group of people desire that sort of engagement from music, and an even smaller set want it from games.

    And I'm not trying to say that anyone is ignorant for not desiring to go beyond fun. The various creative media serve different functions to different people. What we seek and where we look for it are matters of individual taste.

    Archsorcerer
  • FalxFalx Registered User regular
    This was a pointless episode.

    'Games should do this!'

    Gives several examples of games that are doing this.

    'Why aren't games doing this?!'

    Did you even watch the episode? Because that's not what happened even slightly.

    The_UlfIntotheSky
  • The_UlfThe_Ulf Registered User regular
    Jonathan Blow has said that a game must be one or both of a) Fun and/or b) Interesting. I think that's getting at this idea.

    TheMadSpin
  • OmetheonOmetheon Magister Artium Registered User
    Unfortunately, the term "FUN" seems to be intrinsically linked to the idea of gaming, because - unlike a movie, which you might watch for it to rattle you, challenge or even disturb you (i.e. Irreversible or Schindler's List) - games do require a deeper engagement, your active participation. And unlike those movies, you kinda need to have fun at an activity to keep going. So therefore the Entertainment industry as a whole, but gaming in particular, has misconstrued the relationship between fun and engagement.
    I would thus argue that in terms of gaming, we should from now on use "engagement", because I think games such as Silent Hill 2 or more recently Spec Ops: The Line are very good at engaging, but I wouldn't consider it "fun" per se...

  • Strangebrew71Strangebrew71 Registered User
    But games make me cry all the time :'(

  • TheMadSpinTheMadSpin Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    The problem is the misguided notion that "fun" is a single emotion.

    I'm studying game design, and one of the big debates we had to start our masters program is: "What makes a game fun?"

    The debate took hours, wasn't even close to resolved, and included everything from games like Mario (where even the enemies are adorable) to Silent Hill (where bleak and depressing are the primary impelling agents).

    If a game is good at being a game, it has a core mechanic or drawing point that makes it worth the player's time when interacting.

    How we define fun is at the heart of what makes us pick up a given title. I happen to think that quiet art films and tragic plays are fun, though they are not always little smiley faces. I'd wager that most people, even those who play Call of Duty, are open and expectant of more from their games.

    Even as a disillusioned Call of Duty player, I was once overwhelmed by the power of crawling helplessly from a nuclear blast. That the poignancy has been eroded with spectacle in the intervening years does not change that moment. It does not remove the reality that the creators said: This will not always go perfectly, you are not invisible, things have consequences.

    Yes, that gets subverted, but it exists and even through the tragic, people find joy. Fun isn't automatically light.

    As another comment mentioned: Jon Blow says games are either fun or interesting. As someone who finds "interesting" fun, I'm not sure the two things are actually separate.

    TheMadSpin on
  • GoronianGoronian Registered User
    Here's my problem with this video. It confuses mechanics and atmosphere.

    See, first and foremost, a game has to stand on its gameplay. If it fails, nothing else matters, really. Atmosphere, story, bright ideas the devs might have had - all get flushed down the toilet, because the core couldn't stand on its own. When we say we want a "fun" game, we really mean, that we want the gameplay to be good. Is Silent Hill 2 "fun"? Of course it is - it's engaging, enjoyable and the wonky controls are complimented (but are not replaced!) by the atmosphere and the setting. You know why Homecoming is not "fun"? Not because they tried to make it more "fun", but because they tried to make it more player-friendly, which hurt the experience. Suddenly the gameplay clashes with the atmosphere and players just lose interest.

    It's why I really don't like "artsy" movies. Lots of directors forget, that while their script, their ideas and their visuals may be compelling, the actors need to, you know, act. If the actors are bad, nothing can save the film, really.

    TheMadSpin
  • HRDSalami654HRDSalami654 Registered User regular
    A game has to be fun? Tell that to the creators of Deus Ex, or Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I loved the hell out of those games but they were not "fun" in the traditional sense of the word. You spend more time trying to figure out if you should put your experience into certain areas, like swimming for instance, only to find out that it was a complete waste of time. Upgrading ones ability to swim in Deus Ex was a worthless gesture unless you are obsessed with finding EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. In the game.

    DE:HR tried to prevent this, but the very fact that you spent most of your time hacking computers, only to find out that this does nothing for you in a boss fight, and then having to figure out an alternate way of playing the game on the fly. This is the kind of seat-of-your-pants game I like. It's a game where you spend a frustrating amount of time trying to figure something, almost give up, but just when you are about to rage quit you figure it out. It is a feeling of accomplishment that traditional "fun" games just don't have.

    For more on this, see the game Dark Souls.

    NOTE: I was talking about DE:HR when being played on "Give me Deus Ex" difficulty.

  • TheMadSpinTheMadSpin Registered User regular
    Let me also add that a person, such as the writers of Extra Credits, are applying a lot of personal sociology to decide who does or does not have blinders on.

    The claim is that the industry suffers because people won't admit that they're not having fun.

    The same argument could be made the other way. That people who want desperately to be take seriously refuse to admit that some people DO have fun playing games that are bleak. That some personalities gravitate towards the dark and the depressing and define fun differently.

    The blinders may, in fact, be in refusing to acknowledge fun as an amorphous and varied thing.

    "We don't think this is fun, so we demand that you change your definition. You must admit that Bioshock was not fun, that Silent Hill was not fun, that Spec: Ops was not fun! If it's fun then it can't be meaningful!"

    Ridiculous.

    As is a unilateral accusation that because someone attempts to make a fun game, they're somehow not TRYING to make a meaningful game. Jon Blow's Braid has both a poignant and heart-wrenching finale (which repaints the narrative of the entire game) and a well crafted and welcoming core mechanic and aesthetic.

    The fun is the vehicle to get you to the moment when the game is most powerful, but the impact of the title is souring, unsettling, and filled with recrimination.

    Let's not also forget that games like Spec. Ops: The Line, are technically "fun" games with a fun mechanic. I'd rather play Spec. Ops, from a fundamental gameplay standpoint, than something like Space Marine. The 3rd person mechanics are more polished, the cover is effective, and the game has a lot of really great water cooler moments.

    People have started talking about how the game isn't "fun" and it's caught on, but that doesn't really mean that it's true. The run and gun of the whole thing IS fun. Some serious minds would just like us to focus on the subversive narrative over the parts where you can dive into cover, come up shooting like a badass, and enjoy the view while you're at it.

    Is it as fun as other 3rd person shooters (not the 1st person shooters Extra Credits foolishly compared it to)? Sometimes. Sometimes it's just as good as things like the aforementioned Space Marine, or blows away titles like Mind Jack, or the newest Front Mission.

    If we only compare whether our games are "fun" against the tallest industry standards, then we've made another, and far more grievous, miscalculation of value.

    The reason people can get away with risk in novels, indie films, quiet folk albums, etc, is that we do not read, watch or listen to these lower budget affairs and say, "It's not as good as the stuff with a 200,000,000 dollar production and marketing budget, therefor it is not fun."

    Spec Ops is viscerally fun. If you need proof, go dig up titles like Bionic Commando, or Eat Lead: The Return of Max Hazard, and tell me which game you'd rather play with the sound off.

    That it has a meaningful meta-narrative simply enhances that fun, but it thrives on what it's NOT to craft meaning, and what it IS to get people there.

    UriainLintire
  • fodiggfodigg Registered User regular
    I agree for the most part, especially when discussing themes and narrative in games, but I do think that developers should make sure that the core mechanics of their game are fun to do. Yes, there are games who have terrible, repetitive core mechanics but people play them because they find the overall experience engaging, but I don't think that can be held up as good design.

  • RabidKittenRabidKitten Registered User regular
    I'm not sure I agree with this episode. Because watching Shindler's List, Sophie's Choice, Gone with the Wind, and so forth is fun. Watching movies, reading books, drawing, going to a museum, and so forth are leisure activities, things we choose to do with our free time because we want to do them. "Not fun" is reading a book on credit market analysis, paper work, working at a fast food restaurant, going to war, and things we don't want to do but do out of necessity. (and to some those things are fun.)

    Games can be both fun and not fun. A game that is fun is a game you are playing and want to keep playing. Even if its extremely hard, and you're throwing your controller at the ground, as long as you the player keep wanting to play it. The game ceases to be fun when a broken mechanic, unfair challenge, or unengaging story draws you out of the experience. Suddenly playing the game no longer becomes a task worth designating your free time to. It can also cease to be fun when you are playing the game out of necessity because you have to like a game tester or reviewer. Many of those people don't play games in their free time.

    Watching Shindler's List is fun because its a good movie. The story, acting, and film making are top notch. It's engaging on numerous levels. Watching a Micheal Bay film is the very anti thesus of fun for me. The story is trash, the film making is over produced, and its loaded with sensory over load. Triple A games have this effect on many people as well.

  • UriainUriain Frantically reloading Toronto, CanadaRegistered User regular
    I have always found "fun" to be a subjective aspect. What I find enjoyable or "fun" may not be your version of enjoyable or fun. Even within the same game we both play, our versions of fun could differentiate. I do agree (and I am cherry picking from TheMadSpin here, as his post was excellent) with a lot of the sentiments being made, about how a "fun game" doesn't mean it isnt meaningful, or vice versa.

    The big push, from my perspective, from publishers/developers seems to be pointing towards this "lets make it like a movie" and try to sensationalize their game, or add "over the top action scene's" to try and recreate that block buster summer movie. A prime example being the reviews I have heard on RE6 (have not played it myself) or the last couple of CoD games. The pretense in RE has been survival horror for the longest time, and it slowly started moving away from the survival horror into the action-horror, which then (as per the reviews it seems) leaves a bad taste in people's mouths.

    CoD is another example, with the nuke giving you this huge set piece, which was incredible and blew people away (figuratively and literally in game) Now every new CoD (we shall see with Blops2) has had increasingly larger/flashier/explostionier set pieces, which have for the most part (in my mind), have not really added to the game.

    To wrap up this post-slowly-turning-into-rant, I view fun as something I have with a product that is good. It can be with a 60hour RPG or a 15 min endurance racing game, a quick match of Street Fighter, or a narrative driven top down like Braid. I would like to see the quality put back into games, because that is (again imo) what makes them fun

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  • TempleDogTempleDog Registered User regular
    This is pretty much how I feel about north american feature animated films. 'nother topic for another time, but they suffer from the same tendency to see 'em as kiddie fare.

  • MalteaseMaltease Registered User regular
    I appreciated that Green Lantern reference at the end made via the artwork.

  • DectilonDectilon Registered User
    Fun, apart from the 'light-hearted' definition is hard to pin down. I've had more fun with Dark Souls and its crushing difficulty than with many easier and accommodating titles. It's frustrating sometimes, but it's motivating because the feeling of learning and mastering is a positive one. Many games try to give the player all the power, and some of those games can be fun too, if for different reasons.

    But, and I think this is where the real point lies, very rarely does games leave you with a negative emotion. Frustration perhaps, boredom maybe, misplaced anger at bad partners in some competitive game, sure. But very rarely does a game generate negative emotions that stay with you, make you think about the themes, think what you would've done if placed in a situation you experienced in a game etc. Even games that attempt to have a serious tone can't seem to shake off that layer that feels game-y (game-y as in something that is just for fun), be it because of game mechanic constraints on your actions, absurd, gameplay-accommodating environments, unconvincing characters and character models or just the game not responding when you do something absurd (like say shooting wildly around your supposed allies without them so much as flinching). Disconnecting a game from fun is a big task which I don't think anyone has succeeded at yet. The objectivism in bioshock was cute, but hardly a worthy discussion of the subject. The presentation of war travesties in the line was a breath of fresh air, but still very constrained by what is expected of the medium. There's a long way to go before we can compare the best of games to the best of movies and call them equal.

  • RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    Okay. Guys. Words can mean a lot of things. People on both sides of the discussion can use dictionary definitions to prove their point. But ultimately the issue is, what are people using the term for? That's why EC defined how they would be using the term fun right at the beginning--a key word being lighthearted. You can agree or disagree with that use of the term. I personally would say that 90% of the time, outside this forum thread "fun" is used to imply lightheartedness. But even if in your personal experience when people say "fun" they mean it synonymous with "positive" (which is how people are trying to use it here), EC is narrowing the term. For the duration of this video, you can replace fun with whatever word you want, the point stands. What they are saying is games don't have to be lighthearted. Games don't have to be empowering. Games don't have to make you feel good about yourself or good about the world. If they are sending you a message, it doesn't have to be a message you want to hear.

    So what is it that publishers are demanding in games that is slowing the industry down? I'd say empowerment is a big one--combined with spectacle. You have to have that time when you feel like a badass, when you get to man the turret or cut through the waves of enemies. Feeling weak and overwhelmed is not "fun". But it can be engaging and a positive experience.

    I also reject the idea that there are certain elements of a game that have to be done well. Most people would say it's okay for a game to have a bad story if the other elements are good enough. Same goes for bad graphics or bad presentation. No game is perfect, and it's not like you have to choose one game. But gameplay seems to be the one thing everyone says has to be spot on. You know what? Castlevania 1 has bad gameplay. A delay between hitting the attack button and attacking is bad gameplay. It's not fun. But that furthers the atmosphere, presentation, and the sense of accomplishment when you make it past a certain part.

    We don't look at movies that way, at least we shouldn't. If I watch the A-Team remake, I'm watching it because it's fun, even if it's mindless. Why do I defend A-Team and still attack Transformers? Because if you want mindless action, A-Team does it better. You can get what you want without having to put up with the crap Transformers shoves at you if you want to get to the robot fights. So A-Team doesn't have to be compelling or moving. And compelling or moving movies don't have to have great action and fun one-liners.

    Now, you might say "Of course it has to have good gameplay! It's a video game! Well, "game" also pretty overtly implies lighthearted fun as well. That's why it's a misnomer. If I recall correctly EC had a video way back at the start about why video game is a flawed term, but it's probably too late to change it. Toys have to be fun. Entertainment does not.

  • RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    Jinxstar wrote: »
    "You seem to be assuming that video games always fill the niche of "something 5-40 year-olds do to relax". I like video games as a detox, just like I like movies and books as a detox. But there are movies that I love that would never be my first choice when I'm exhausted after work. Some fantastic movies, books, and games are either mentally or emotionally draining. But as long as there's a good payoff (not necessarily a happy or fun one, but some worthwhile message so it's not just depressing for the sake of depressing) the experience is worth it."

    I would not think of anyone 5-40 years old and middle class a niche really... a single game can have a niche audience. Games in general are a niche as facebook or movie goer's.

    I agree with having choice. However, as I go on to say, that's a small market. Hence small dev's handle that niche. I would venture to say that most people though don't want art. That's why Transformers makes so much money in theaters and the tree of life didn't.... People, in general, want dumb fun. Not mentally tasking games like heavy rain or point and click adventures. Those games exist though and are great for those who like them.

    I wasn't saying 5-40 year olds were a niche. I'm saying a relaxation activity is a niche. I would not say that moviegoers are a "niche". You might as well say that "consumers of culture" is a niche. Games should not limit themselves to being a toy. Like I said, there are games and movies that I love that I would never play/watch to relax.

    As for your second paragraph, the fact that Transformers makes money and Tree of Life didn't should not be our modus opporandi (sp?) moving forward. That's defeatist. Playwrights didn't accept that movies could be more than fun schlock when they came out. It took filmmakers saying "let's see what deep stuff we can do that plays don't have access to" to prove them wrong. Games can compel in ways that movies never will be able to. And they do sell. It's like how people say EA and Activision will never change because their method makes money. Yet Valve, the company gamers love, makes tons of money by doing things gamers love. Yes, shlock sells. But good, compelling games do too, and they will be remembered a lot longer.

    I'm not saying (nor do I think EC are saying) that every game (or any game) should be pretentious, barely playable, or preachy (like, IMHO, Loneliness). I don't like most of the crap that gets nominated for Oscars either. Heck, my favorite movie this year was nothing but fun (Avengers). But to me, "Where's the fun" leads to crap like the final boss fight in Arkham Asylum. It's just shoehorning in formulaic stuff that undermines the uniqueness of the rest of the game.

  • Hawkmoon269Hawkmoon269 Registered User regular
    Rather liking the Mass Effect 3 reference

  • scw55scw55 Registered User regular
    When playing Mass Effect 3 I was in a constant state of anxiety and nausea. I enjoyed it but it wasn't because it was fun, it was because I got invested.

    Comedy RefluxBeet
  • rembrandtqeinsteinrembrandtqeinstein Registered User regular
    I'm not sure who the audience was for this video. Gamers? Because if it is then it comes off as "stop liking things I don't like". Publishers? Then it is the unrealistic "sacrifice your money making potential to make art for" vibe. Developers? Well developers make games that aren't about "fun" all the time. Limbo, Dwarf Fortress, XCOM (remake), Braid, and the ones you listed like Contact and Planescape.

    This video series is really interesting but this one just kind of misses the mark.

    And also I think Schindler's List would make a great adventure game if someone had the resources and guts to do it right.

    Better yet imagine a sandbox game where you are a prisoner in a concentration camp. And your only hope of escape was getting enough food that you had the energy to do things that the guards didn't expect the inmates to be able to do. And the only way to gather food is to steal it from other starving people. Or maybe you could earn a position of trust with the guards by being friends and entertaining them even as they are abusing your fellow prisoners. Or even betray another prisoner's escape plan to earn privileges you could use.

    But no publisher can be expected to fund a game like that. And very few gamers would "enjoy" it for their entertainment purposes.

    IronSavioreusolace
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