Revisiting the Theory of Fun

“Fun,” says game designer Raph Koster, is just another word for “learning.”

The idea that play is the best way to learn is not, admittedly, an entirely original idea. Even Plato, Koster is quick to point out, famously declared that “the most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” Still, few authors have explored the relationship between learning and play like Koster did in his 2004 book A Theory of Fun for Game Design.

The original edition of the book became something of a bible for game designers. University game design programs across the globe made it a part of their curriculum, and the book was translated into Japanese, Chinese and Korean, eventually selling over 30,000 copies. This year Koster teamed up with publisher O’Reilly to release a 10th anniversary edition, due out December 5. The book’s many charming illustrations are now rendered in full color, and Koster has updated the content to make it more relevant to the modern games industry, but the core idea at the center of A Theory of Fun — that learning and fun can be synonymous — has gone unchanged. That’s mostly because in the 10 years since the book’s release, nobody has been able to successfully challenge that idea.

“Somebody really should,” he says. “It’s been 10 years, dammit.”

Much of Koster’s game industry experience is with MMOs. He was lead designer on Ultima Online: The Second Age, and creative director of Star Wars Galaxies.

>the original article here

Association for Moral Education

The Association for Moral Education (AME) was founded in 1976 to provide an interdisciplinary forum for professionals interested in the moral dimensions of educational theory and practice. The Association is dedicated to fostering communication, cooperation, training, curriculum development, and research that links moral theory with educational practice. It supports self-reflective educational practices that value the worth and dignity of each individual as a moral agent in a pluralistic society.

The Association emphasizes the development of moral understanding in all individuals, and believes that such development requires opportunities for engagement in moral dialogue. Through its program of conferences and publications, the AME serves as a resource to educators, practitioners, students, and the public in matters related to moral education and development, provides expertise on educational policies and practices, and provides information about moral education to interested parties in the general public.

The Videogame Ethics Reader

Edited by Jose P. Zagal

Essential reading for anyone interested in the moral dimensions of contemporary play.
—Chris Bateman, game designer, philosopher, and author of “Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames” and “Imaginary Games”…a thoughtful book for anyone interested in the importance and impact of games in our lives.
—Drew Davidson, Director, Entertainment Technology Center – Pittsburgh Carnegie Mellon University

Videogames are the dominant art form of the 21st century. How we go about designing and creating them, what we choose to say and express with them, and how we engage with and play them, reflects and informs our behavior and broader understanding of morality and ethics.

In this book, Zagal has collected a series of essays that offer an amazing array of perspectives and views. Game designers, sociologists, legal scholars, media theorists, game researchers, philosophers, and more, all offer their views and insights on varied and diverse sets of issues. Topics include potential effects of violent content in videogames, cheating and anti-social behavior, business practices in the games industry, social and cultural diversity and representation in games, moral values in games and gameplay, freedom of expression, and how games are uniquely positioned as an art form to encourage players to reflect on ethics and morality.

The Videogame Ethics Reader is a unique collection of writings on videogames and ethics by leading scholars and practitioners. It includes game analyses, case studies, and thought-provoking essays that serve as a valuable companion to traditional ethics textbooks. This book provides an entry point for thinking, deliberating, and discussing ethical topics surrounding videogames and their accompanying technologies. It also serves as a springboard for examining how this relatively new medium can provide us with insights on many of the moral and ethical questions that have been with us for centuries.

José ZagalDr. José P. Zagal is a game designer and scholar. He serves on the faculty at DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media where he teaches a variety of courses on game design and analysis, online communities, and ethics. In his research he explores the analysis, design, and use of videogames for encouraging ethical reasoning and reflection. He is also interested in supporting games literacy through the use of collaborative learning environments. His book on this topic, Ludoliteracy: Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Games Education was published in 2010. Zagal is a member of the executive board of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA). He has published many articles on videogames in leading journals in the field of game studies and regularly presents on these and other topics at international conferences.