Are we having fun yet?

The brilliant Bernie de Koeven has posted a poem about fun and about what sort of fun we want. This bit particularly caught my eye:

Like the kinds of fun we can find in games that are inclusive and not exclusive, games that turn us all into players, games that keep us all in play.

When we did some improv games at the “We can’t go on meeting like this” gig the other day, this was something Stephen Wrentmore talked about: are we playing this to “win” or are we trying to find a way to include everyone? That strikes me as a great question about games.

For instance, I pretty much love improv games so it’s easy to glibly assume that everyone will enjoy them and silently persecute those who don’t. I then need to recall games at school, which were fun for others and miserable for ectomorphic me. When others are having fun, and you’re not, that’s a miserable experience. People having fun can be quite unbearable to those who aren’t having fun. How can we all have enjoy the game, those who are “good” at it and those who aren’t good?

It’s a great question, not least because asking it surfaces all sorts of stuff about how we engage with others and assumptions we make about abundance or scarcity, winning or losing. Incidentally, this is something Bernie has spent his life thinking about.

1 thought on “Are we having fun yet?

  1. Ian Fitzpatrick

    Great stuff, Johnnie. In my experience, the games that most consistently kept a group of dissimilar players engaged were those with fluid rules and guidelines – those in which the group could decide to alter the parameters of the game on the fly in order to maximize participation. In groups of a certain size, we tend to be pretty good at identifying disparities in ability and self-handicapping. This is possible only in those games with few rules and constructs – it’s rather tough to alter the basic tenets of basketball, but something like capture the flag allows for infinite variations in gameplay to make the pursuit challenging for everyone.


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