Dusty Nunes 1/30/17
Blog #1: Pac-Man
To answer whether playing Pac-Man was a ‘fun’ experience, I believe it is necessary to try and define ‘fun’ in games. When you search “definition of fun” on the Bing search bar, the Merriam-Webster dictionary website defines it as “amusement or enjoyment.” The website also says ‘fun’ is “a mood for finding or making amusement.” The “finding” part of the definition is where I believe true ‘fun’ comes from. Author Raph Koster highlights this concept of ‘fun’ in his article titled “Theory of Fun for Game Design” when he is discussing what games are, “… none of the definitions tend to assume that fun is a requirement: amusement or entertainment at best is required” (12). Koster wants to separate ‘fun’ from amusement or entertainment because he believes ‘fun’ has a more meaningful purpose. Koster believes ‘fun’ can help us learn. Koster goes on to say in his book, “That’s what games are, in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning” (46). When you are trying to find something, it is a challenge because you do not know where it is and you never know if you will ever find it. For me personally, I agree with Koster; I seem to find ‘fun’ in challenges because I believe challenging yourself is a great way to learn more interesting things. This is ‘fun’ to me. I want to point out that one concrete definition of ‘fun’ can and never will be agreed upon in my opinion because everyone feels, experiences, and perceives ‘fun’ differently.
While playing Pac-Man I was having fun at first. My anxiety level was running high because it was challenging to get every dot without being eaten by the four different colored ghosts. I kept dying at first so I felt the need to try and learn the best routes to take to get every dot. I started to develop strategies such as waiting as long as possible before eating any of the big four dots. This allowed me to “eat” the small dots thus clearing a lot of the game board and then use the big dots abilities to eat the four colored enemies As I started to play the game on a regular basis I became more confident. My gained confidence took away the anxiety that I was initially feeling which I believe led to my boredom. I no longer felt I was learning on how to play the game anymore, instead I was just going through the same pattern repeatedly. Pac-Man teaches you a simple concept, be the top “monkey.” Koster believes that “Games almost always teach us tools for being the top monkey” (52). Once you collect all the dots you not only beat the game, but you beat the four colored ghosts who are trying to prevent you from collecting every dot on the game board. You have then become the “top monkey” and the most dominant player on the game board.
All in all, I enjoyed playing Pac-Man at first but grew bored fast. Although I must admit the boredom allowed me to focus on more than just the game itself. The Boredom allowed me to enjoy the design of the game and notice all the minor details, such as the dark background and intensifying music that only raises the player’s anxiety level. These details were beautifully thought out by the game designer and ultimately helped make the game a house hold name.
Source: Koster, Raph. 2005. A theory of fun for game design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press.