Nicole Lazarro has proposed that there are four keys to fun in video games:
- “Easy fun” satisfies curiosity and stimulates the imagination.
- “Hard fun,” is the kind of difficult challenge that creates satisfaction upon mastery — and leads to frustration for some players.
- “People fun” is the social aspect of games, the part about hanging out with your buddies.
- “Serious fun” is the kind of fun that reflects your values, fun that provides a worthwhile outcome for the time spent.
I encountered this while looking for more detail about the term “fiero” in the context of training. In Italian, it means “fierce,” but in games it refers to a kind of pride in accomplishment that comes from boldly meeting a challenge.
Hard fun, in other words. Fun like rock climbing or getting to the bottom of a problem in code right before the deadline or successfully building a business. For some of us, that’s real fun.
This distinction appeals to me because I think we often consider only easy fun when we think about websites. We know that a website has to be useful, beautiful, or entertaining in order to provide value to customers, bring them back, and inspire them to link to us. But when we think about entertaining visitors, we think about providing easy fun. When someone asks for a fun website, we think about humor, light amusement, and a design that will surprise and delight.
Nothing wrong with that.
We should also think about how we can bring people fun into our sites through forums and social media integration. We should consider offering hard fun in challenging learning opportunities or competitions. We should provide serious fun in the form of useful tools and information — and not think that we’re being useful instead of offering fun.
We’re in the early planning stages for a new site section of a site we built for a client with a serious B2B service business. We made him a playful site with Jay Jaro’s designs, introducing elements of easy fun. Now we want to bring in some of the other types of fun.
Since I hadn’t yet seen Lazarro’s taxonomy of fun, I wasn’t thinking of it that way. I was thinking we needed more multimedia, more interactive elements — terms like that which were already in my active vocabulary.
New taxonomies can give us better ways to think about things, or to discuss them. When I saw the Four Keys to Fun, I realized that they described exactly what I was trying to do with the new site section, and clarified my thinking about it.
What about your site? Does it include all four kinds of fun? Have you been missing the opportunity for fun because easy fun wasn’t what you wanted and the other kinds weren’t yet in your vocabulary? Perhaps you haven’t been considering the fun factor at all — if so, maybe having four kinds of fun to think about will inspire you.