Theory of fun for game designers by Raph Koster

Games are fun! That seems obvious. Problems arise when you try to make your own game.

How to make it fun? Why other games are fun and mine’s not? What makes them fun?
Are there different types of fun? How to use them in my own design?

When I started thinking about becoming a game designer I looked for best books on the topic.
I searched for book rankings, bestseler lists and reccommendations. There were 2 books,
that were present at almost every list:

I bought both of them and started reading. (I recommend to start read Koster’s book first.)

A Theory of Fun for Game Designers by Raph Koster

A Theory of Fun for Game Designers by Raph Koster

Ralph “Raph” Koster is an American game designer and enterpreneuer.
He was lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director behind Star Wars Galaxies.
Check out Koster’s website which is full of greate gamedev articles.

In his book Koster analyses fun wich comes with games from many different perspectives, mostly using psychology and theory of art.

Most imprtant things I remembered after reading it for the first time:

  1. Games are about solving problems (on different levels of abstraction).
  2. Fun appears during solving the problem and climax after it is solved.
  3. Problems should be matched to players skills and balance between boredome and frustration.
  4. Player learns while playing game.

Of course there’s lot more so you should start reading!
You can try some of Koster’s style and way of thinking with his presentation
on Theory of fun (pdf).

Book is a worthwile reading because Koster wraps your head around an idea of fun in games in a way that comes very handy in further game design readings.

Also check out Koster’s keynote on games-as-a-service:


If you would like to buy the book on Amazon you can use this link: