What Makes Games Fun?
Such a simple question can be answered in a multitude of ways. Everyone has their own opinions on what is fun, it is an inherently subjective answer. I believe there are several major components that contribute to the fun of a game. Characters drive fun by connecting us with the game in personal ways. Mechanics play a key role in keeping the player interested. The strategy of a game keeps us thinking about it long after we play. The world the game creates inspires us to explore and imagine. All these aspects come together to make games like Kung Fu Boogie truly fun.
Characters are a perfect place to start when discussing fun. Not only are they major drivers of our fun, but they are often the first major connection we make with a game. Gamers love to see parts of themselves in the characters they play, and it increases their enjoyment of the game as a whole. It’s important for developers to keep this in mind when designing their games. People want to see themselves represented in various ways throughout the game but especially connect with playable characters. Kung Fu Boogie is a great example of capitalizing on this principle. It has a wide roster of characters so anyone can find someone to connect with. Characters alone don’t make a game fun, other aspects like mechanics are important too.
Mechanics is basically just a fancy way of saying gameplay. Mechanics are the ways in which your character can actually interact with the game world and other characters. The way they jump, move, perform special combos, or really anything that they do. You might also refer to this as your “controls.” These are important in a variety of ways. They need to be accurate, or as some gamers refer to it, “tight” controls so that when you press a button your character does what’s expected. If you push jump and the jump is delayed or doesn’t jump as high as usual or whatever it might be that you end up creating frustration instead of fun. Mechanics don’t have to be complicated, they just have to work well. Kung Fu Boogie does this excellently with simple mechanics for picking your moves and animations that match your expected dance perfectly. Nice smooth controls keep the interaction light and fun. Mechanics are just the how you do things, but what about how you win?
Winning at the game is obviously a leading cause of fun and strategy is how you win. Strategy is important to a game because if a game’s strategy is too simple it can be boring, and if it’s too complicated it can be frustrating. Finding that sweet spot is no easy task. A lot of developers like to work off the rule “easy to learn, tough to master.” This idea encompasses creating gameplay where strategies are easy enough to come up with, you know what you need to accomplish and how to do it, but difficult to pull off properly. Tic Tac Toe is a great example of this. It’s easy to know you need three in a row and the many ways of making three in a row, but in practice with an opponent achieving that goal is never quite so simple. Kung Fu Boogie does this very well with gameplay using simple concepts that require good strategy to achieve victory. There is one more piece to the fun puzzle.
The world that all of this exists within is a major piece of how much fun we have with a game. We have characters and mechanics, strategy and gameplay, but as in all other forms of media, setting is essential. The world encompasses the what, when, where, and sometimes why of a game. It has been shown time and time again that immersive worlds and/or worlds within or closely related to our own are very compelling and fun. They are places we want to explore and interact with in new ways. Kung Fu Boogie creates a world of backstory and setting through its character backgrounds and interactions. It also brings the main action of the game to life in your own real world using augmented reality technology. This approach allows Kung Fu Boogie to capitalize on both the appeal of a unique and interesting world and the appeal of interacting with our own world in new ways. In the end, characters, mechanics, strategy, and world come together to create real and compelling fun for all gamers.