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Book Excerpt: "A Theory of Fun for Game Design" - What Games Aren't (03 Dec 2004)
I donít think anyone would quarrel with the notion that stories are one of our chief teaching tools. They might quarrel with the notion that play is the other and that mere lecturing runs a distant third. I also donít think that many would quarrel with the notion that stories have achieved far greater artistic heights than games have, despite the fact that play probably predates story (after all, even animals play, whereas stories require some form of language).

Are stories superior? We often speak of wanting to make a game that makes players cry. The classic example is the text adventure game Planetfall, where Floyd the robot sacrifices himself for you. But it happens outside of player control, so it isnít a challenge to overcome. Itís grafted on, not part of the game. What does it say about games that the peak emotional moment usually cited actually involves cheating?

Games do better at emotions that relate to mastery. Stories can get these too, however. Getting emotional effects out of games may be the wrong approach - perhaps a better question is whether stories can be fun in the way games can.
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