As a person who isn’t much of a gamer I have certain characteristics I look for in a game before I decide to play it. I tend to stay into my niche of PC massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGS). MMORPGS are games that have qualities that appeal to me. I like seeing other people run past me in the game knowing they, typically, are real people in real time. I like meeting people from around the world and sharing our real life and in game experiences. I play these video games to make friends and be sociable. I enjoy them because they have storylines and quests that progress the greater storyline or tell of a smaller conflict. In regards to that, I decided to step out of my niche and explore other genres of games. My choice was Super Meat Boy.
I first chose the game because Super Meat Boy sounds ridiculous and I thought it would be a funny game, plus, as a bonus I knew someone that owned it. My first day thoughts of Super Meat Boy are kinda jumbled since I took notes before every aspect of new content in the game. For instance, I took notes at the title sequence, after the video that set up the problem, and after each level I played. I was definitely interested in the story when it played out, but with actual gameplay I was unsure if I found it fun. This guides me to what is fun?
Fun in video games is the enjoyment you get from playing. According to Raph Koster’s definition of fun it is “edutainment.” Edutainment is the mashing of education and entertainment. In order to have fun in a game one must find it amusing and learn from it. Although there is a fine line with learning due to the visceral challenge of the game. As Koster explains, it is easier to use unconscious thinking than to use conscious thinking. If there is too much conscious thinking people may find it hard and get bored and if there is too much unconscious thinking people may also find it too easy and get bored. There is definitely a happy medium with each
So using Koster’s definition was Super Meat Boy fun? I would say yes it was fun. I was entertained by the story and the long term goal of finding and rescuing Bandage girl from Dr. Fetus. I didn’t know the controls all too well so there was definitely a learning process involved in playing the game. Each level involves jumping, running, or sliding on walls of some sort while avoiding different obstacles that could kill you. While I immediately got used to the controls of the first few levels it only became more difficult. At some points I had to stop and trace my fingers over the controls I would do to get to the end. I did have to use some conscious thinking, but it wasn’t intense like solving a mathematical problem. The music was enjoyable as well as the fact that each time you went through the level your red meatiness would stay on each place you touched even if you failed and it restarted. That was one of my favorite details and it contributed to my enjoyment.
While fun can be difficult to define, Raph Koster’s definition of fun as ‘edutainment’ definitely describes why I found Super Meat Boy fun. I was completely surprised that I found the game fun. I’ve never been good at console games or platform games, so it was interesting to see how leaving that comfort zone changed my perspective. All in all, I would recommend Super Meat Boy to others as the story and its visual appeal kept me hooked.
Source: Koster, Raph. 2005. A theory of fun for game design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press.