When first trying to come up with a game, I had to start from scratch and work myself up from there. I thought to myself “what makes a game fun to begin with.” There are so many different aspects to a game that it can be very difficult to figure out what actually is fun about a game. Is it fun because you have to make meaningful choices?, is it fun because you get rewarded for playing well?, is it fun because you are playing with friends?, is it fun because you get a sense of accomplishment and progression? These are all questions that many devs ask themselves. It makes it even more complicated to figure out what is fun when many people have so many different definitions of fun and want/expect completely different experiences
To break this down, you have to look at the different types of people that play games. I am going to generalize three different players of tabletop games and what attributes of a game they might enjoy, thus allowing us to see what “fun” is and help us target our game toward a specific audience.
What they like:
- Easy to learn/understand
- Interactivity between people
- Heavy luck component
- Little/no strategy
- Quick games
These type of players don’t typically play games and therefore know little about game mechanics/strategy. They usually play games only if there other friends insist on playing games. These players will enjoy the games because it is something to do with their friends, not because they solely enjoy the games mechanics. They enjoy games with luck as it gives them a chance to be powerful/relevant without actually knowing in depth strategies to the game.
What they like:
- Making impactful decisions
- Being rewarded for “good” play
- Enjoy luck that doesn’t take away from the skill of the game
These type of players enjoy playing games and are familiar with some board game mechanics. They enjoy making decisions that have a significant impact on the game. Although they enjoy the strategy of the game, they also enjoy luck that makes the game more interesting while not taking away impactful decision making. This is the category I would say most tabletop gamers would fall under.
What they like:
- Enjoys being able to beat anyone they are better than.
- Playing games that involve deep thought
- Longer games that allow for deeper game mechanics
These type of players enjoy beating other opponents using superior strategy. They dislike being beaten by someone due to luck. They enjoy investing more time into a game as it allows the game to have more/deeper mechanics and more player input.
These are the three generalized type of players. As you can see, people have fun with very different types of games and not one game is more “fun” than any other. It just depends who is playing it. That is why I think it is important that a developer choose the audience they are targeting before getting too far into the design process. As I have experience, there comes a time in design where you have to choose between two different mechanics which serve two different type of players. Having a core audience that you are targeting makes the design process so much easier. Once you have an audience, you can think if that type of player will enjoy X part of your game or not, and you can go from there.
What do you think? What kind of player are you?