Rolighetsteorin: a theory of fun

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Oct 022009

I have search alerts set up on a variety of sites for “theory of fun.” Today this little gem popped up: Rolighetsteorin. It translates as “theory of fun for safety” according to Google, and it appears to be a Volkswagen campaign in Sweden that is trying to use fun for social improvement.

This page is dedicated to the idea that something as simple as happiness is the absolute easiest way to get people to change. That it does not need to be more difficult than to make things a bit more fun to have to change for the better. Which does not matter as long as there is improvement. For yourself, the environment or whatever you want.

An example of what they mean: getting dramatically more people to take the stairs instead of the escalator (which of course, provides more cardiovascular benefit).

It is fun to see the expressions on people’s faces as they puzzle out why the stairs (or the garbage can that makes a whistling cartoon “falling from a great height” sound when you toss trash in it) are there. The stats seem to bear out that there is an effect.

I would posit that the trash can would have diminishing returns compared to the stairs, because the stairs have expressive potential and are more of a toy; the trash can will get old since there is only one input and one output.

  8 Responses to “Rolighetsteorin: a theory of fun”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dominic Johnson. Dominic Johnson said: RT @raphkoster: New blog post: Rolighetsteorin: a theory of fun […]

  2. That’s brilliant! Just to confirm, the stairs make a noise when people stand on them?

  3. It seems the escalator keeps running — wasting energy– whether or not it has people on it. Also, people who take the stairs consume more energy than those who take the escalator, which must then be replenished in the form of extra food. Where, then, are the energy savings in this?

    Oh, also… someone might get killed trying to play Rachmaninoff on this thing. 😉

  4. 1) A laden escalator consumes more energy than an unladen one.

    2) While it’s true that it takes a set amount of energy to elevate a given mass a given distance, regardless of where than energy comes from, a person who habitually takes the stairs is likely to not only generate that energy more efficiently over time, they may even shed some mass.

    3) It looks like the goal is not to reduce gross energy required so much as to encourage cardio fitness.

    4) Rachmaninoff? Heck, you could pull a groin muscle just trying to play Chopsticks 😐

  5. Very cool experiment, though I wish they had footage of the same stairs in normal circumstances for comparison.

  6. I want to see someone – or possibly someone’s – play a tune on that thing 🙂

    Was the idea behind the bin to get people to pick up rubbish lying around to play with it?

    If every bin made a different sound, you could maintain the fun factor.

  7. This subway station is just a few minutes away from where I live, too bad I missed the installation myself. Would have been fun to see it. The proper translation for “rolighetsteorin” should be something like “the funnesstheory”. The “for safety” part appears to be random noise.

  8. Google is a bit off with the translation, a proper translation would be:
    The theory of fun. =) Hitting close to home Raph? 😉

    I’m sad I missed this, I live just a few blocks away..

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