Diablo 2 - Addictive, but is it fun? @ TechReport
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September 17th, 2009, 16:14
I have found myself feeling a similar sentiment to the one expressed in this article. But I think calling addictive things not fun makes it a semantic issue. I think the difference is in the quality of fun. There is the big picture fun in which you have an experience that is satisfying on several levels. A game may have an interesting story with a thoughtful struggle, or it may be a challenge that requires some serious thought, or perhaps it is a visually pleasing game. Then there is the fun based around fixed (grinding) and variable (loot drops) ratio reinforcement and exploiting the brain's reward system. Braid was an example, for me, that integrated several levels of enjoyment and left me feeling I had high quality fun. It was probably the purest example in a video game I have had. The puzzles required me to think in ways that broadened my logical ability, the story was interesting and a little mystifying, and the game was an aural and visual delight.
I think there is a scale as to the quality of fun, how worthwhile the experience is. Maybe with making art, socializing, and pursuing a loved vocation being things near one end of the scale and doing drugs, pulling slot machines, and vandalism being things closer to the other side. Video games are always probably going to be in the middle as fairly neutral, but some are definitely more worthwhile than others. I think the question is given it is addictive (thus pleasurable, thus fun), is there anything worthwhile in Diablo 2? I think this is in the designer's hands a bit, because people in the throes of addiction have diminished capacity to control their use of it. I think designer's should ask themselves that if you are trying to make your game as addictive as possible, do you realize what you could be doing to people and is it worthwhile?
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