Raph Koster: Theory of Fun Status

Raph Koster — original lead designer for Ultima Online, once known as Designer Dragon — has evidently submitted his revisions to A Theory of Fun to O’Reilly.

How much has changed? Well, I would guess that half the pages in the book saw some sort of edit. That said, the shape of the book is largely unchanged. I got a lot of feedback saying “don’t break it,” from people sending in revision suggestions.

Big differences would include:

  • A big update to Chapter Six, “Different Fun for Different Folks.” There has been a lot of new science on brain differences between the sexes, and it points to both the fact that male and female brains are overall more similar than different — and yet there’s concrete evidence for some very real differences that could affect how we look at different games.
  • A lot of new science and references throughout. Some of the new material touches on Bernard Suits, deliberate practice, ludonarrative dissonance, etc. A lot of this material was not in existence at the time of the original book.
  • Clarification and updating on things like “what is a game,” “what about engaging with games in ways that aren’t fun?” and so on. A lot of this material was drawn from the Ten Years Later presentation.
  • 4000 new words in the endnotes (!). That is around an additional 50%, I think.
  • A new afterword.

This doesn’t mean the book is headed for the printing presses just yet, of course. What will likely follow are further revisions based on suggestions from the publisher, and the book’s layout is evidently still being adapted to fit a new trim size that has been chosen for it.

(Image credit: Cory Doctorow)