MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research - Deepstash
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Fun is fun, right? Get to know the 8 kinds of fun

Fun is fun, right? Get to know the 8 kinds of fun

Have you wondered what makes something fun?

Maybe you don't have to! There are some researchers, philosophers, and game designers who did that already and came up with a few ideas.

The 8 kinds of fun theory was made by Marc Leblanc and used later in a larger theoretical model called MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics), which proposes a formal approach to game design and game research.


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8 Kinds of Fun - Overview

8 Kinds of Fun - Overview

Marc Leblanc proposes that fun can be divided into:

  1. Sensation
  2. Fantasy
  3. Narrative
  4. Challenge
  5. Fellowship
  6. Discovery
  7. Expression
  8. Submission

Please notice that not only people may like multiple kinds of fun, but most of the activities have many of them in different scales.


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8 Kinds of Fun - Sensation

8 Kinds of Fun - Sensation

Having fun through sensation means that people like to feel things.

This can be achieved by going on a rollercoaster, playing tag, or even playing digital games in easy or arcade modes.


45 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Fantasy

8 Kinds of Fun - Fantasy

People who like fantasy fun are usually excited about themes like magic, sci-fi, or other stories that are far from reality.

This can be achieved through roleplay, wearing costumes, using accessories, or any other uncommon things.

The universe where the activity plays is one of the most important things for fantasy lovers.


34 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Narrative

8 Kinds of Fun - Narrative

When the story is the most important aspect to make something fun, you're having fun through narrative.

This can be achieved through storytelling, interactive movies/books, or by playing games' story mode.


28 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Challenge

8 Kinds of Fun - Challenge

When you overcome an obstacle and find that fun, you're having Challenge fun.

This can be achieved by playing in a competition, playing a game in hardcore mode, or even by trying to master everything in a complex game.

Understand that some people may like to face some challenges, and that is even part of the flow theory, but others (people who play games like Dark Souls or Bloodborne) are interested in having really hard challenges — which may be frustrating to the average audience.


19 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Fellowship

8 Kinds of Fun - Fellowship

If the most fun activities are the ones you do with others, then you like Fellowship fun.

This can be achieved through co-op games, going to parties, hanging out, or even by playing party games.


26 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Discovery

8 Kinds of Fun - Discovery

Solving mysteries is your thing? So you like Discovery fun.

This can be achieved by watching investigation shows/movies, playing hide-and-seek, or even with open-world games.


32 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Expression

8 Kinds of Fun - Expression

When you like to make the experience feel like it has a part of you, that's Expression fun.

It can be achieved through customization of all sorts (clothes for a character, colors for an app, you name it), by allowing significant chat between participants, or even by supporting original content.


26 reads

8 Kinds of Fun - Submission

8 Kinds of Fun - Submission

Submission fun is about investing time and effort into something and getting a return on investment.

This can be achieved through gardening, a celebration of a huge achievement, or even by playing building games.


43 reads



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