Space Invaders or Fun Invaders?

Hey guys!
Interesting class isn’t it? I mean come on? What other classes here at UC Merced can you play video games and then get to talk to others about it? Hmm, as of now I can’t think go any. Anywaaaaayyys, the game I decided to play was Space Invaders.

spaceinvaderAt first I did not know how to play the game at all. In fact, I did not even read the rules because I thought it would be a simple game that would not be difficult to figure out. So, I just told myself I would figure it out as I would start to play. However, when I started I could not figure it out at all! I was moving the arrows on my laptop thinking I had to dodge the attacks from the aliens, but as I was moving back and forth my score stayed at zero. I knew I was doing something wrong, so I decided to read the instructions to understand how to play. Then when I understood the game I though it was fairly easy, and as soon as I thought that, the aliens started moving down making it easier to attack me. So then I started moving faster and as I did a red thing came out on top and started moving. I got scared not knowing if I had to kill it or dodge it. I decided to take a life risk and shoot it, but luckily received points for it. Unfortunately right when I shot it, the aliens were too far down that they got me and I died. tumblr_m0j2zxcwlc1r4u23qAfter my first few attempts I thought I should give the game a try again. At first when I started playing it I thought it was fairly easy and did not understand why I thought it was difficulty. I, then, easily passed the game, and when I thought I had won the game, I thought it would be over, but then it took me to the second level. Right when I had started I noticed a lot more aliens moving way faster, but I was doing good by hiding under the blockades and killing the aliens when i had the chance to. Towards the end, there were two aliens left thinking I could kill them, but all of a sudden they started shooting at me nonstop. Eventually they got me and I immediately died.

So would I say playing this game was fun? Yes and no.


In his book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design Raph Koster states, “I also have experiences where I stare at something and simply don’t get it. I hate to admit it, but my typical reaction is to simply turn away” (6). That was exactly how I felt the first time I played the game when I did not read the instructions. I did not know what to do but just stare at the screen. I wanted to turn away too, but this was an assignment so I played the game. However, as I began playing the game it was fun because I understood how to play it and it was exciting seeing myself win. According to the “optimal experience” chart I landed in the worry and arousal part, but it was the good type of worried. I was worried that I was going to lose but at the same time felt a stimulating feeling of winning. It all changed when I went onto the next level. My optimal experience went to bored and anxiety. I was getting bored of losing and feeling anxious every time an alien got close to me. Again, I relate to Koster when he states, “Games that are too hard kind of bore me and games that are easy also kind of bore me” (10). After some time of playing the game and feeling excitement during the first levels and then worrisome and anxious after the following levels I got bored of the feeling all those feeling in one game.

playBrian Sutton Smith, author of The Ambiguity of Play, argues that we need to play to make us happy about this crappy world and I agree with that. To me “fun” is something that amuses me or makes me happy. When comparing Space Invaders to Sutton Smith’s argument I understand how the game is better than real life. This is because in Space Invaders the gamer can shoot aliens as much as he can and feel dominant about his skills. As the audience, we are glad aliens don’t just come and attack us, but it is pretty cool how we can have control over them even if it is just for a minute through a game. In the end, I definitely recommend the game because to gets addicting for a while due to the adrenaline rush of trying to survive.



Koster, Raph. A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005.

Sutton Smith, Brian. The Ambiguity of Play. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.


8 thoughts on “Space Invaders or Fun Invaders?

  1. I really enjoyed your blog especially your progression with playing this game. I love your in-depth analysis of how you played and how you eventually learned a game that you never have played before.


  2. I’m somewhat surprised that you didn’t know how to play space invaders. I personally never played it but I’ve seen people play had a basic understanding of the game. It’s pretty cool the way you progressed through the game. I think if anyone went into a game completely blind like you did, they wouldn’t enjoy it at first.


  3. As far as the gaming experience goes, how did you like the music? Did the sound of murdering an alien make you happy? indifferent? sad? Did you try any other tactics other than simply hiding behind the blockades?


  4. Good job at presenting both sides of “fun.” Space Invaders is a classic game that is meant to difficult so it can eat all your quarters. The game is fun but as fun as it is it is also frustrating.


  5. This was an interesting writing dump. Your opening paragraph is a run on mess that really brings out your emotions of playing, which is good. But I’m not sure it’s the best way of really arguing a specific point. And that point is what seems to be missing here. Yes and No. Koster and Csikzentmihalyi and Sutton-Smith. So many options and you aren’t really settling. It’s good to be thinking, but make sure you at least take a solid stab when writing, don’t just swing trying to nick everything. Substantively, I want you to think about your interpretation of Csikzentmihalyi’s flow chart. You begin by saying you’re worried, which is NOT hitting optimal experience, but you say that’s okay as it’s a “good type of worried.” What does that mean? Is optimal experience not optimal? Or, was your inability to hit (and maintain) flow what eventually causes you to say meh to the game? Your opening paragraph could really help a reader see how you took a path around the flow chart and not to optimal experience, which would be a definite claim that the game was not fun (at least for you).


  6. Based on the fact that you said you did not read the instructions and things got frustrating, do you think it would have been better and entertaining if you knew the controls before even playing the game? I think that Koster was talking about playing game that is very difficult to play even when reading the instructions. Also, could your sudden loss of excitement have been caused by the fact that it is too easy. I mean space invader is pretty easy compared to Pac-man


  7. Were the sounds effects and background music contributing to your sense of anxiety? I’ve notice that there are quite a few people who turn the sound off when playing, do you think that changes the experience of the game?


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