Do Games Need To Be Fun?

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Not fun, entertaining. So, no. Games do not need to be fun, but it certainly helps in my view.

Fun is a bad word to use, because it means different things to different people.

Like grinding. WoW and jRPGs would suggest that some people love grinding. They love to fight the same enemy again and again for the most meaningless of stat boosts. Other people don't have an attention span, so they buy CoD (kidding! kidding!)

I might sit down to enjoy a nice Tolstoy with a glass of brandy and a fine leather reading chair. Others may sit down in front of the television with a brew and half read Nuts out of the corner of their eye during the commercial breaks. Both are 'fun' but fun in different ways to different people.

Perhaps 'engaging' should be the word. I can engage with Metal Gear Solid, its storyline is deep and complex (some would say needlessly so, but whatever) it has reasonably efficient controls, as long as you play it enough for them to become intuitive, and despite frequent jokes about its length it's not until MGS4 that it gets in the way. I may not like Call of Duty, but I can admit that its frenetic 'DO STUFF! NOW! NOT THAT STUFF THIS STUFF! WATCH OUT YOU'RE DEAD BUT IT'S ALRIGHT BECAUSE YOU'LL BE ALIVE AGAIN IN A MINUTE!' pacing does engage, if not enthrall.

Games that I consider bad are games that didn't engage me once. Games where I would rather have been doing nothing than playing the game. Off hand I can't think of any examples, but I know that they are out there. Games don't have to be fun, but to be considered seriously they need to engage.

Oh, and the developers need to decide on one ending and then stick with it instead of caving to peer pressure.

Fun is a weird word... it gives images of roller coasters and go-carts and such.. in that definition no they don't neccesarily need to be "fun"

but one thing they need to be at the end of the day.. is enjoyable.. A good book doesn't need to be "fun" but if it's enjoyable on a level that clicks with you then it ends up being a good book no? The same can be said for games, a game doesn't need to be theme park fun.. but so long as it clicks on a level you enjoy. (Engaging characters or story, enjoyable mechanics, deep competitive game play whatever suits your tastes you know.) Then it's a good game.

that's my take on it.

DustlessDragoon:
Nope but it tends to help if they are. People are more inclined to play something fun than something serious and grim.

Serious and Grim can also be fun. Look at Mass Effect 3, it had a rather serious tone to it and the outlook looked grim for Shepard. The game was still fun.

OP: No, games do not need to be fun. I can think of thousands of games that I couldn't stand (but still played until the end anyway for shits and giggles). Does anyone remember "Drake of the 99 Dragons" game? Yep, didn't have fun but still beat it. On the Hardest Difficulty. Without damaging my controller (too badly anyway).

For me, a something has to be interactive and has to be fun to be called a game. Things like that 'every day the same dream' and stuff like the OP mentiong, I consider to be interactive storytelling or art, but I don't consider them games. They're not entertaining in the same way that what I consider a game to be is, they're just an interesting way to make a point or provoke thought in the player.

Well if I don't find a game fun then i'm not going to play it.

Much like if I went out for a meal and was served horse shit instead of steak. I aint going to eat it.

I find everything fun, so I guess I don't really have any right to speak here. If it's a bad game, it's fun to hate it. If it's a game that brutally punishes my every mistake, it's a fun challenge. I usually don't play these games with a grin on my face, but it's still fun.

So... no, they don't have to be fun.

A game's primary objective should be to entertain, anything else should be secondary.
Ultimately I play games to be entertained so if I'm not entertained by a game chances are I won't stick with it.
This is the same with books, an author can try to convey the most important of themes using as interesting and unique narrative techniques but ultimately if the text doesn't engage the reader and make them want to read it then what's the point?

Recently I read a novel called Perfume; it focussed its descriptions on the sense of smell and often the narrative would break down into a script or cross from third-person omniscient to first person. I could appreciate why the author was focussing on smell, as it's underappreciated as a sense, and I could see what the author was trying to do with the narrative but ultimately with-out the fleshed out characters and the interesting plot there wasn't that engagement to make me care or want to continue.

In a sense what all forms of media need are an vested interest by the audience. In a book this is by making the reader empaphise with characters whereas with a game this falls down to whether or not the game is fun.

Of course they should be fun. What would be the fucking point in them if they are not?

If you're not having fun, why do you feel the need to 'sit through' a twenty hour AAA game if you're not enjoying it?

To me, different mediums serve different purposes. Movies tell a story with awesome visuals and themes, books stir the imagination, and games are just mindless fun. A game doesn't have to have the visuals or themes of a movie, and it certainly doesn't have to tell a book-level compelling story.

Rawne1980:
Well if I don't find a game fun then i'm not going to play it.

Much like if I went out for a meal and was served horse shit instead of steak. I aint going to eat it.

Exactly this. It can be the most beautifully displayed gourmet horseshit from France garnished with pepper while someone plays the violin beside my table, but I'm still eating shit, and I'm not going to force myself to eat the shit just because it's beautiful and I've already regrettably exchanged money for it.

Case in point, Minecraft. It tells no story, it has graphics that pre-date the original Playstation and very basic sound effects.
But it's one of the most addictive, rewarding kind of fun games you'll ever play.

Well they need to be entertaining, otherwise they are not worth my time. But no they do not need to be fun, as long as I enjoy myself the game is good.

NinjaDeathSlap:
Not necessarily 'fun', but they do need emotional engagement of some kind.

Looking back I don't remember Red Dead Redemption being much 'fun' (ok, picking off 6 bandits with consecutive headshots in slow motion on horseback was kinda fun, but anyway), but it did leave a powerful emotional impression on me. There is absolutely no part of Silent Hill 2 that I would describe as fun, not one, but it is indeed a game and a damn good one at that. These are mainstream games too, not just indie titles.

They need to make you feel something, to provide some kind of emotional catharsis that takes you out of your day to day existence. It can be enjoyment, sadness, fear, whatever; so long as it's something. The only thing a game is not allowed to be is boring.

Yes, to me, 'fun' just about equals 'meaningful'. I don't limit fun to silliness, bright colours, laughter and dynamic events.

So yes, games have to be fun in that regard. Gloomy, scary, punishing and troubling can all be fun if you look at it like that.

No, I don't think games need to be fun. I think demanding that games be fun is stunting the creative potential of the medium in fact.

You wouldn't call a book that is focused on dissecting and examining communism fun, you wouldn't call a movie about sexism in our society fun, but they're still books and films, and are not rated less highly than other examples of their media just for not being fun.

Games have incredible potential, the interactivity and immersion provided are fantastic ways of exploring ideas. Take for example Dys4ia (http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/591565). A game about being transsexual and transitioning gender. I wouldn't call it "fun", I didn't have a whale of a time playing it. However, it's still a good game, it examines a tricky and confusing subject and manages to make its point far more clearly by involving the player in the transition, through gameplay.

"Fun" to me is popcorn-munching, roller-coaster, summer-blockbuster stuff you don't have to think about. You should walk out of the theater chatting with your buddies, "Wasn't that AWESOME when he punched that guy through the wall?" God of War and Burnout: Paradise are great examples of games that operate on this level. Don't think, just mash the accelerator / ogre's head as far down as it will go. Nothing wrong with that. I love both games.

I also love games like Civilization. I poured 1000 hours into Civ 2. I wouldn't say any of it was "fun." It was a more cerebral type of enjoyment, mentally engaging on more levels than action games tend to be.

Games must offer something people want. It can be "fun," or something more complex.

poiumty:
You have a very weird definition of fun. You can have fun while tackling difficult subjects too.

Fun is a factor of gameplay, not story. And the story can be anything it wants as long as the gameplay is good. Fun means exciting, engaging gameplay that doesn't get boring. You can accomplish that through multiple elements, but a game without good gameplay has inherently failed at one of its jobs. I'm not saying it can't be good despite that, but it will be flawed.

Is Freedom Bridge (the game I mentioned in the OP) flawed because its gameplay is not really engaging at all? It's just moving left and right and slowing down when you go through barbed wire, and it's definitely not exciting. I think the game is engaging because of the story (such as it is.) The game would be nothing with just the gameplay element, it would be terrible, to be honest.

But that's the point. It's not exciting to escape a country and walk through barbed wire, it's a long hard slog, and it shouldn't feel really awesome as you're doing it, that would ruin the game.

The game certainly engaged me. There's the sound of rushing water to the right that promises an event in the future, and tells me where to go. And the events that unfold as the game progreses are shocking and thought provoking.

I wouldn't call them fun.(Well, allright, maybe the gameplay was engaging, coupled with the story. But ONLY with the story could it become engaging. And it still wasn't fun.)

ArnRand:
NOTE: Read to the whole post please! I'm not saying we should ban COD or anything! Please don't call me a pretentious wanker!

Anyway, in that weird 'are games games?' topic a lot of people said that games needed to be fun to be considered games.

I call bullshit. Yes, the majority of games are and should be fun to play (even the majority of indie games, and even the majority of indie games about serious topics). But not ALL of them. I played this little internet game that was meant to be about the North Korean border where you basically crawled through some barbed wire and died. (EDIT: it's called freedom bridge, thanks, whoever mentioned it in the thread.) It wasn't fun. It was still something I consider a game, and it left a big impression on me.

Sitting through a twenty hour AAA game that isn't fun to play is going to suck, yes. But smaller budget games almost need to be not quite as fun, to be able to tackle big topics like racism or whatever, topics that aren't inherently amusing but are worthwhile being explored in a game.

A game has to hold your attention in some way. Being fun is a very easy way to do that. But there are other ways, like an interesting concept, or a thought provoking idea, or even just suspense and tension. For example, you wouldn't want a game about genocide to be fun, if you were a character doing it. Yet such a game would be a powerful experience.

An example from the film world is the film Downfall, about the last days of Hitler. I can't honestly say I enjoyed that film, it was pretty grim, and there wasn't much redemption or anything. It was a great experience, because it said things about the human condition and made you think about stuff, etc., etc., I'm not a film critic, but the point is, well, games don't have to be fun, and maybe a few more less fun games would be a good thing.
I repeat: Please don't call me a pretentious wanker!

*cowers*

Pre-Journey, I would've thought you was crazy, dogg.

(Improper grammar intended.)

But Post-Journey... I think I understand what you mean. Journey wasn't a fun game for me to play. Yet it was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed.

ArnRand:

poiumty:
You have a very weird definition of fun. You can have fun while tackling difficult subjects too.

Fun is a factor of gameplay, not story. And the story can be anything it wants as long as the gameplay is good. Fun means exciting, engaging gameplay that doesn't get boring. You can accomplish that through multiple elements, but a game without good gameplay has inherently failed at one of its jobs. I'm not saying it can't be good despite that, but it will be flawed.

Is Freedom Bridge (the game I mentioned in the OP) flawed because its gameplay is not really engaging at all? It's just moving left and right and slowing down when you go through barbed wire, and it's definitely not exciting. I think the game is engaging because of the story (such as it is.) The game would be nothing with just the gameplay element, it would be terrible, to be honest.

But that's the point. It's not exciting to escape a country and walk through barbed wire, it's a long hard slog, and it shouldn't feel really awesome as you're doing it, that would ruin the game.

The game certainly engaged me. There's the sound of rushing water to the right that promises an event in the future, and tells me where to go. And the events that unfold as the game progreses are shocking and thought provoking.

I wouldn't call them fun.(Well, allright, maybe the gameplay was engaging, coupled with the story. But ONLY with the story could it become engaging. And it still wasn't fun.)

Yes it is flawed. AS A GAME. As in, game, not interactive experience or anything. The actual game part of the game is not a good enough game.

You can't argue with that. As a game, it fails on some basic level. The difference is if it's meant to be a game or not. As you describe it, it seems more like an interactive novel or movie.

Chairman Miaow:
I think that games have to be fun. What you described I would more describe as an interactive narrative.

You said this in a way I would have taken many swears to accomplish.

poiumty:

ArnRand:

poiumty:
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It might be good if you played this game, seeing as it takes literally less than minute to complete. And it's a good thing to play anyway (extra credits recommends it!) Then you'll be able to relate more to my points: http://www.necessarygames.com/my-games/freedom-bridge/flash

Anyway. I'm going to have to back pedal a little. I originally said the gameplay wasn't engaging at all, even though I took that back at the end of the post. I repeat: within the context of the story, it was good gameplay.

Have you seen Yahtzees measure of a good game: Context, Challenge and Gratification? What I'm getting at, is, no game is good without context. It can be fun, maybe, but not really good. Good as in, the kind of thing a critic gives 5 stars. If you were fighting a load of polygons, instead of a dragon in Skyrim, I don't think it would be very fun. Even pong was clearly a tennis simulator. EVERY game needs some kind of context or story in which to take place, it's an integral part of the experience.

With that in mind: Is it really a flaw (as a game) that Freedom Bridge requires it's context to have engaging gameplay, when basically every game in history uses the same idea, just to a lesser degree?

I don't think it needs its own category, of interactive experience. I think that's a bit demeaning to games. Freedom bridge is not trying to be a novel or film. It would not work, at all, in those mediums. It takes on its power and message because the player is controlling what happens. That is the essential part of the experience.

(Thanks for the debate by the way, clarified some ideas for me.)

Freechoice:

Chairman Miaow:
I think that games have to be fun. What you described I would more describe as an interactive narrative.

You said this in a way I would have taken many swears to accomplish.

See, now I just want to hear your version.

If it interests you, then it's fun. Nobody has the same definition of fun as others.
For example, I find the original Fallout to be boring. I love the ideas and style, but gameplay wise, I couldn't bear it for more than a few levels before I tossed the game aside and never touched it again. However, plenty of other people find the original Fallout fun, and I don't mind. They can enjoy whatever they want.
I find Silent Hill 2 to be fun. Some could argue that the gameplay is crap and the puzzles can get annoying, and I agree, but rather than Fallout where it subtracts from my overall enjoyment of the game, it enhances it. It inspires a feeling of helplessness and confusion that puts the player on the same level as the protagonist. Any game that can keep me interested after nearly 7 playthroughs is what I call fun.

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