Play: Games as the Play of Pleasure

Pleasure is commonly understood as a fundamental feeling that is hard to define but that people desire to experience. Of course, pleasures opposites (pain, frustration, despair) are equally important in understanding the play of pleasure in a game.

To observe the rules of the play structure promises much greater pleasure from the game than the gratification of an immediate impulse.” – L.S Vygotsky

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Play: Designing Play

Katie Salen | Eric Zimmerman | Rules of Play | Game Design Fundamentals


How do the rules play out?

“Ultimately, game design is play design. The rules of a game are relevant because they facilitate the experience of players. Within this primary schema, we expand out understanding of games considerably, delving into topics like pleasure, narrative, and social interaction, in the movement from the primary schema of RULES and PLAY, we loosen our tight focus on rules as a formal system to examine the ways that rules become a meaningful experience for the players of a game.” ( page. 299)


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Study: Core Concepts PT.1

Salen & Zimmerman: Rules of Play                                        Unit 1: Core Concepts 

Chapter 3: Meaningful Play

Johann Huizinga – Homo Ludens

Huizingas vision of play offers a perfect point of departure for the development of meaningful play.

“It [play] is a significant function – that is to say, there is some sense to it. In play there is something “at play” which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action. All play means something.”

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Expanding on the Phaser Game

Aesthetics| Games as a Play of Experience

For the Aesthetics assignment, I made an exploration game from the perspective of the moon, as if it was a sentient being with free movement within the solar system. I wanted to incorporate sound into the game, which I didn’t manage to do.

I think I had trouble understanding Aesthetics by itself, mostly because aesthetics to me is to do with presentation/ style/ mood. My feedback was that there wasn’t enough, that it wasn’t weird/exciting enough and that it fell into three categories of Aesthetics:

  • Sensation: Player experiences something completely unfamiliar.
  • Fantasy: Imaginary World.
  • Discovery: Urge to explore game world.

Because I had so much trouble understanding aesthetics, I thought I would study Salen & Zimmerman’s Rules of Play : Game Design Fundamentals; focusing on Unit 3: Play. I want to create a game design document (GDD) for this game and see if I can create a game that would create player experience of sensation, fantasy and discovery in a more polished context.