Today I was working with a team (coordinated by my long-time mentor/colleague/friend Jim Schuyler, who knows the most interesting people) to design an experience for an upcoming event. Dialed in for a big part of the planning session was Nicole Lazzaro, a real revelation!
Nicole gave us a rundown on her insightful take on the four “fun keys” that serve as emotional signposts in the gaming experience. They’re a different cut through the elements I draw upon, and are insightful and well-based in her research on game playing. Moreover, she taps into an element I have largely ignored (owing to my own ‘non-social’ learning style; I’m not asocial, I’m just shy and kind of independent), the social aspect.
Her elements were:
- Fiero: an Italian word capturing individual triumph over adversity (requiring frustration beforehand). This is something that movies don’t do well, she asserts (and certainly vicarious triumph isn’t quite the same). I was pleased to hear her use ‘hard fun’, which those who know me is a concept I tout, though her take was more specific than mine. I align this with a perfectly-pitched ‘challenge’.
- Curiosity: this is an ‘easy fun’ which is interleaved with the hard fun, providing choice and opportunity to explore. I have choice and novelty which are combined to some extent here. Her take is that this leads to wonder, surprise, and/or awe. Delightful!
- Relaxation/Excitement: I didn’t quite get the nuances here, obviously, because this seemed like a twist on the shift between fiero and Curiosity. It’s a continuum, but the bits that did ‘stick’ included playing to learn and achieving goals, and also the importance of meta-cognition. These are concepts near and dear to my heart, so I’ll have to pursue these further.
- People fun: Here she included the joy of working with others, and also Shadenfreude “pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune”. I tend to focus on individual learning experiences, and so she’s providing valuable new perspective to me here. This incorporates all the social emotions from envy and jealousy to camaraderie, gratitude, and generosity.
I have written about emotion in elearning(a PDF), but this is an elegant analysis of emotion in the gaming experience, and valuable for learning game design as well. There’s a brief introduction in a Gamasutra article summarizing a session on emotion that Nicole participated in (free registration may be required). Have at it!