Added the outline of the Game Developers Conference presentation on the Laws of Online World Design.
Lots of discussion of fun over at Terra Nova–some of it references the book.
And I don’t know how I missed it before, but here’s a review in Italian. “il tutto condito dagli stilisticamente poco convincenti ma molto divertenti fumetti” indeed! I’ll have you know that the cartoon’s style was intended that way! Surely the Pascal, Shakespeare, and countryside pics show that it was a conscious choice? 🙂
In fact, a bit of trivia for you: the scene of the farmhouse and cows is a portrait of a spot in Rueschlikon, Switzerland (outside of Zurich).
Oddest review ever. Alan Sondheim on Usenet posted a lengthy set of book reviews, all interrupted by quotes from the police scanner he was listening to at the time:
A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster, Paraglyph, 2005. What can I say? This is exactly it. I don’t have any units available for this job. Supposed to be a private house. One item. Dispute. Call for help Greene Avenue. This book reminds me of the late Wittgenstein, deceptively simple, concerned with the habitus of game-play, expectation suites (my term), player/human concerns within and without the game-world, and so forth. I’ll be using this for my own virtual work this summer; I recommend it as a way of clarifying intent, structure, and phenomenology of one’s work. There is text only on the left-hand page, illustration on the right, but the cost is relatively cheap at $23. Armed man. “Even if players can see through fiction, the art of the game includes that fiction.”
More reviews have popped up. Slashdot posted theirs, accompanied by the usual Slashdot comment thread full of vituperation. 🙂
With the endless rehashing of game and design concepts currently in circulation and parent groups growing ever more shrill at the release of morally ambiguous titles, Raph Koster’s book is a refreshing read. The book is an unpretentious examination of what it is that makes a game a game. He steps beyond the dehumanizing aspects of game mechanics to look at games and their designers in a broader societal context. If for no other reason that that, Theory of Fun is worth a look to read the opinion of someone who gives a damn.
The Slashdot review resulted in a big spike in sales on Amazon.com, and the book landed at #2 in the Game Development charts. Unexpected and pleasing, of course.
Another interesting take, which raps me for overemphasizing cognitive science, is the one by
I feel I learned a lot from Theory of Fun in Game Design; Koster provoked me to think a lot more than most academic books tend to do. (I hope that doesn’t seem like too backhanded a compliment). It’s only against this background of general enthusiastic approval that I will note what seems to me to be the book’s major limitation. That is its overall assumptions based on cognitive psychology…
Lastly, a brief five-star review from the Midwest Book Review.
I spent Monday up at USC, invited there by Amy Jo Kim, who with Tracy Fullerton is teaching a class there on multiplayer game design. It was refreshing to be in front of students again–it’s been a long time–and I very much enjoyed it. I can easily see myself going back to teaching again someday, if I can just get out of having to grade papers…
The previously referenced review at Wallo World turns out to have been a version of the BlogCritics.org review!
The GameDev.Net review is up now!
A number of media have their “bibles”. These are the books and references that practically define how that medium works.
…It’s a book I sincerely believe _everyone_ should have read at least once in their lifetime. It’s that important.
…what Campbell and Vogler did to storytelling, Koster has done to _play_. This is a seriously important work. It’s a pop-science book that makes use of the very theory it espouses. And it works. It works exceptionally well. By the time you’ve read through it, so many pieces of the game design puzzle will have clicked together in your head that you’ll sit there wondering how someone could get so much knowledge across in such an easily swallowed pill.
…This book is history in the making. It will be referred to in seminal books whose authors have not yet even been born.
OK, so it might be a little over the top. 🙂 But hey, I’ll take it!