Game design with Noah Falstein, part 3: Natural funativity theory

Natural Funativity Theory:

Natural funativity theory is Noah’s own work. You can find the original gamasutra article here. What I present here are only my notes on the subject, my personal interpretation of the theory. Hope you find it useful.

What is fun?

  • Dictionary: Enjoyment, a souce of amusement (that does not help)
  • Consider underlying reasons
  • “Funativity”: Thinking about fun in terms of a measurable cause and effect
  • Inevitably this leads to “Why do we commonly share the experience of fun?”

Evolutanary roots:

  • We must look to our distant past
  • Young mamals play to learn basic survival skills
  • Games are organized play
  • Human entrataiment is more complicated

Entretaiment is Learning:

  • Life is either work, rest or entretaiment
  • Perhaps at first it was all work or rest
  • Play (and fun) may be neotenal traits
  • Fun is about practicing or learning new survival skillin a relatively safe setting
  • People who didn’t experience were less likely to survive to become our ancestors

Natural Funativity Theory:

  • Basic concept is that all fun derives from practicing survival and social skills
  • Partly learning new skills, partly mastering and mantaining familiar ones
  • Key skills relate to stone-age human life, but often in modern context
  • Three cathegories: Physical, Social, Mental

Physical fun:

  • Sports generally enhance our strength, stamina, coordination skills
  • Exploration is fun, both of local area and knowledge of exotic places
  • Physical aspect to gathering “stuff”
  • Hand/eye coordination and tool use are often parts of fun activities, crafts

Social fun:

  • Storytelling is a social activity, a way to lean important survival and social lessons from others, our first VR
  • Gossip, bonding with friends aids survival
  • Flirting, showing off, finding mates is a key component in social fun
  • Language has become paramount

Mental fun:

  • Pure abstract reasoning practice is fun
  • Pattern matching and generaion
  • Music, art, puzzles, all pattern based, both perception and creation
  • Gathering has also a mental aspect: categorizing and identifyng patterns

Multipurpose fun:

  • Many fun activities have physical, social and mental aspects in combination
  • Games that mix these aspects tend to be very popular (e.g. Blizzard games)
  • Incorporate ways to practice these skills to increase popularity of games

Noah also mentioned that Diablo 2 was a great in combining the 3 types of fun. You have great physical (hack and slash mechanics, click click click), great mental (inventory, item management, etc) and of course, great social fun (multiplayer is great!).

Seth out.