Entertainment And Fun Aren't The Same Thing

He may switch a few words around, but what commenter DunnCarnage is basically saying in today's Speak-Up on Kotaku is that a game doesn't have to be fun to be entertaining, and vice-versa.

Something that has been bugging me recently about games is the concept that they don't necessarily have to be "fun" to be "good". Now, before we get any further, we need to define these two otherwise I'll get into semantically based discussion which is beside the point.

Fun:
Minute to minute enjoyment. Every part of the game causes the player to smile and be actively enjoying it. Examples of this is stuff like God of War and Super Mario Galaxy, every minute is tightly scripted and designed to be a gleeful spectacle.

Good:
A game that one would consider worth at least one play through. Not a waste of time.

Now, as you can see, these definitions don't openly say one leads to the other. Some games are fun but not exactly good, The Force Unleashed is a great example of a fun game that just isn't good. Of course there are plenty of good games that simply aren't fun, Silent Hill Shattered Memories is an amazing experience and an absolute must play for Wii owners with a taste for it but it isn't fun by any means. Interesting and intriguing of course but not fun in the slightest.

So why is it that every game is determined to be fun, and why is it we only associate games with fun? For example, the recent controversy over the Nazi death camp video game was mostly because many would consider the game to be "fun" and thus trivialize the event. But did it have to be fun? What if the game was just horrific and difficult? Would that be offensive? Surely a game where one feels powerless and vulnerable would get across the emotional horror of the event far greater than any film or book on the matter. But then, wouldn't many say the game wasn't a game at all, but an "interactive experience"? Some might even call it a bad game because it wasn't "fun".

Another, less controversial example of this is No More Heroes. NMH is in many places not fun. At all. It's even boring. But I still consider it one of the games that has influenced me most when it comes to approaching media and writing, don't be afraid to be dull. NMH is clever, because the dullness is deliberate and there for a reason; it's to parallel Travis' exciting life as an assassin with being a door to door handyman. You could even go one further and say Travis' day job is his real world and the assassin jobs are video games he buys (the whole game can been seen as a metaphor for the video game industry, but anyway). The over world is lifeless and empty perhaps because that is how Travis views the real world, and the menial tasks you have to do are repetitive and dull because in real life they are. This is a perfect example of a game that is boring beyond belief at times but still good.

So, what I'm asking for, in a weird way, is for everyone to stop saying a game is fun and therefore good or dull and therefore bad. Because it's simply not true. I would also ask for less fun games but more good ones.

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