At Lucky Lady Games, the most important question we believe we can ever ask about a game design is ‘Is it fun?‘. You can have the most amazing artwork, sound engineering, technology, story line etc. but without the fun factor, the game is not going to succeed to its full potential (if at all).
Fun is fundamental to player retention, social buzz/share worthiness and monetization, so if you want to make a successful social game, focus on fun first, and everything else secondary. It is so critical in fact that all else can be overlooked to a degree and people will still play.
The fun factor is definitely not something that is easily achieved and there is no one-fit-all type answer. Finding the sweet spot of where ‘fun’ meets ‘game play’ harmony is what every game designer should aim to achieve. To get there, we recommend lots of a/b play testing during all stages of the game design life cycle. Is it fun to you? Why and why not? What can you add? What would you like to see?
What may ‘seem’ fun in theory on paper, might not translate well in real time production. Depending on the type of game you are designing, different elements of what would be considered ‘fun’ varies. The secret is in game balancing… throwing every ‘fun’ game design element into a game will not guarantee more ‘fun’, it needs to make sense to the game play.
The psychology behind ‘fun’ is very similar to asking ‘what makes this game addictive’?
Here are some common game design ‘fun’ elements/hooks:
The High Score
The high score is one of the most recognizable hooks. Trying to beat the high score (even if the player is trying to beat his own score) can keep a player playing for hours.
Beating the Game/Leveling Up
The desire to beat the game or level up keeps players wanting to keep playing.
Story line & escapism is a great way to engage players.
Used mostly in RPGs (role-playing games). EG. World of Warcraft – a good portion of the game is spent exploring beautifully designed imaginary worlds. This thrill of discovery (even of places that don’t really exist) can be extremely compelling.
Online role-playing games allow people to build relationships with other players. For some, this online community becomes the place where they’re most accepted, which draws them back again and again.
Sometimes the actual game play might not be the fun element of the game. Eg. Farmville, one meta game is the social aspect. ‘Ask friends’ for help and items to build your Barn, might be more fun than actually farming.
Moving blocks, dodging missles, spinning the reels… all games require some kind of player interaction.
Opening boxes, rolling the dice, flipping the next card… the element of surprise is much more intriguing and engaging than known rewards.
Collecting items, points, score board… people love to collect things. Give them a sense of achievement and purpose.
Player choices, unlocking doors, new access levels… give them a sense of status & recognition for their efforts in the game.
Character appearances, dress up, weapon choices… personalization of characters makes players feel like they have ownership over the game and in turn a sense of belonging and loyalty.
Game challenges and flow. Game needs to make sense: E.g, You can’t get to level 5 if you haven’t beat level 3.
Laughter is always fun so adding a little humor can lighten up the mood. The real world is too serious as it is. 🙂
Do you have a game/app design you would like to get feedback on for production and don’t know where to start? Feel free to send it to us at Lucky Lady Games and we will get you sorted out!
Until next time, try to add more fun to your life game!
Happy designing & playing,
So you wanna add more Fun to your Social Game Design! Game Designing Tips
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