Raph Koster

President, Areae, Inc.

The Core of Fun
29 minutes, 13.6mb, recorded 2007-03-27
Raph Koster

Fun is something everyone loves and it can make any experience better, but few people really understand it. Fortunately, Raph Koster has turned fun into a science and he breaks it down in this keynote from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. He gives a list of ways in which an activity can be made more fun, with examples from social media and ecommerce.

Fun comes from learning and mastering new experiences. Just as any game is composed of smaller sub-games that need to be mastered, so can any activity be broken up into sub-activities, all of which can be made more fun. Some of the elements of fun are that how you complete an activity should matter, it should be hard enough that there's a chance of failure, that should be able to get better with practice, and that context should be provided and should matter for every action.

The example that Koster uses for all of these examples is shopping on Amazon (a straightforward, consistent experience that's not very fun) vs. shopping on eBay. On eBay, you can learn tricks that make it easier to succeed, there is risk and possibility of failure, and there are different ways to approach the same action. As a result of these and other fun features, people become much more involved in an eBay purchase and have more fun doing it.

Raph Koster is the President of Areae, Inc., a developer of online worlds. Aprofessional game designer and frequent writer on issues of virtual worlddesign, Raph was the lead designer on the seminal online world ULTIMAONLINE, which first brought online worlds to the mass market. Until March2006 he was Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment, makers ofEVERQUEST, where he previously led the design of STAR WARS GALAXIES.

Hisessays and writings on online world design include widely reprinted andinfluential pieces such as "Declaring the Rights of Players", "The Laws ofOnline World Design", and "A Story About a Tree". He is in demand as aspeaker and lecturer on issues of online world design, particularly in thearea of community building. He is a regular speaker at the Game DevelopersConference, and is the maintainer of the canonical history of virtual worldsat his website.


This free podcast is from our Emerging Technology Conference series.