Designing Fun: A Method to Identify Experiential Elements in Analog Abstract Games


To play a game, players interact with the game system by following rules. Upon interaction, different properties emerge. The experience of fun is one of the fundamental emergent properties that players seek from a game. There are many conceptual viewpoints of fun; yet, little research on how a rule system’s qualities help create fun. We present a qualitative empirical method that connects the players’ fun experience in context to the rule system. We describe the protocol for the method and its rationales. Two case studies employing our method on abstract analog (non-digital) games are presented. Our method helps researchers identify experiential elements of games and design-attributes to modulate them. The design-attributes also aid in interpreting the conditions generated by the rule system for fun to emerge. Lastly, we discuss the method’s strengths in terms of findings and potential applications in research and practice.