Tom was right: We don't play games for "fun"

Psychologists at the University of Rochester, in collaboration with Immersyve, Inc., a virtual environment think tank, asked 1,000 gamers what motivates them to keep playing. The results published in the journal Motivation and Emotion this month suggest that people enjoy video games because they find them intrinsically satisfying.

“We think there’s a deeper theory than the fun of playing,” says Richard M. Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University and lead investigator in the four new studies about gaming. Players reported feeling best when the games produced positive experiences and challenges that connected to what they know in the real world.

The research found that games can provide opportunities for achievement, freedom, and even a connection to other players. Those benefits trumped a shallow sense of fun, which doesn’t keep players as interested.

So achievements beats fun, multiplayer beats single-player, and sandbox games beat rail-shooters.

One out of 3 ain’t bad. (Sandbox.)

And paper beats rock. So? No matter what, to this day and probably until the day I die, I will always appreciate and enjoy single player more than multiplayer. Research be damned.

Achieving things isn’t fun? It’s just intrinsically valuable to us?

This thread just ruined my fun.

Even though my original post was intentionally flip I do think the article provides commentary on what makes games keep our interest using psychological concepts instead of using the term “fun.” I think Tom’s point about “fun” is more as a writer but I thought it was interesting that a bunch of headshrinkers came up with similar conclusions.

I’m thinking of inkblots and I don’t know why!

I’m thinking your inkblots remind me of Rosanne Barr in a Speedo. I do not know why.

multiplayer meaning co-op? because co-op trumps all, I’d much rather beat the game w/ a friend than by myself.

It depends on the game for me. Halo co-op always quickly turned into finding funny ways to kill each other, while something like Gears of War is made infinitely better with co-op.

I thought part of the reason games are fun is they allow people to achieve goals (which seems to be a pretty deep engine of human behavior) in a way that is relatively consequence-free and often easy.

I think this says more about the intrinsic vagueness of the word “fun” than anything else.

Having scientists tell us what to think of games is no fun.

Yeah, I’d like to know the scientific definition of “fun” before they go anywhere else with this.

The brain goggles, they do nothing! Unabridged (v 1.1) - fun [fuhn]
noun, verb, funned, fun·ning, adjective –noun
1.something that provides mirth or amusement: A picnic would be fun.
2.enjoyment or playfulness: She’s full of fun. –verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
3.Informal. joke; kid

[Origin: 1675–85; dial. var. of obs. fon to befool. See fond]
—Synonyms 1, 2. merriment, pleasure, play, gaiety. Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source a·muse·ment / [uh-myooz-muhnt] –noun
1.anything that amuses; pastime; entertainment.
2.the act of amusing.
3.the state of being amused; enjoyment.
[Origin: 1595–1605; < MF; see amuse, -ment]
—Synonyms 1. diversion, game. 3. recreation, delight. Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source en·ter·tain·ment / [en-ter-teyn-muhnt] –noun
1.the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement: Solving the daily crossword puzzle is an entertainment for many.
2.something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, esp. a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.
3.hospitable provision for the needs and wants of guests.
4.a divertingly adventurous, comic, or picaresque novel.
5.Obsolete. maintenance in service.
[Origin: 1525–35; entertain + -ment]

So the dictionary isn’t much help, because achieving goals or connecting with friends might well be an “agreeable occupation for the mind”, hence entertainment, hence amusement, hence fun.

search for: fun
replace with: intrinsically satisfying

All you magazine and review site editors out there don’t need to pay me for that consult. Go wild.


Players reported feeling best when the games produced positive experiences and challenges that connected to what they know in the real world.

This is exactly why I like Dead Rising so much.

Further studies by a rival group of researchers have determined that the secret ingredient is love.

Now where’s my grant money?

“virtual environment think tank”?

I enjoyed halo co op just as much as gears (although I onlyp layed it a few times since I had to actually go to myfriends’ house to do it, coop via live FTW), particular points where onep layer could snip as te other rushed in, or some of the overall best moments in the game like escaping the flood or the end run in the warthog were particular highlights of co-op.

never played halo 2 co op

These days I only buy and play games for the thrill of the Live-up-to-the-hype lottery.

After buying the game, is it fun and am I enjoying it? If not, then I lost to the developer and game publisher and probably do did many other customers who took our money. My reward is spending countless hours with everyone else complaining about the games’ problems on various forums.

If the game does turn out to be fun, at least for the PC, then I feel like I just won the lottery, since the odds have been increasing these days of a PC game living up to it’s hype. But the prize is short lived and after a few game sessions I’m spending money on tickets again.

Players reported feeling best when the games produced positive experiences and challenges that connected to what they know in the real world.

I have to agree. I tend to play games that allow me to experience challenges I could never do in real life. Race a Porsche at Monza, land a 747 in bad weather, blast Stormtroopers on Hoth, run an empire (galactic, historical, etc).