What's Your Preferred Minimum Fun Per Hour (FPH)?

edited October 2012 in Story Games
The other night I was talking with my wife about TV shows—specifically comedies, like the Office— and she described how she was choosing which show to watch based on how many times she laughed during an episode. That's got me thinking again about fun cycles in games, and how many laughs (or really, moments of fun) we get per hour of gaming.

Obviously trying to measure fun is tricky- is it laughs? Smiles? Tears of delight at a deeply satisfying moment in the story? It will vary from game to game and person to person, but I think there's a threshold that each of us has in their head for what is enough and what isn't.

Jason has talked before about how Fiasco's design came from wanting to fit as much fun as possible in a 2 hour session, because that's what our weekly game allows. The FPH is high for us with that game, although maybe not as high for somebody who doesn't get or like the game. For myself, I thought the FPH for Grey Ranks was pretty high (again, not so much laughter as moments of satisfaction with the story). At the same time, the game is designed to be played over three sessions and I think players often cut it down to one to pack more fun into fewer hours.

I think something else that sparked this thought was reading Jenskot's awesome play-by-play (not sure if that's a public post or not) of his experience with the Mad About the Boy LARP this weekend. It sounds like an amazing experience, but what struck me is that he spent 18+ hours waiting and doing lonely-fun so that he could play very intensely for 2 hours. There's still a lot of debriefing happening, but that seems like a crazy-low FPH ratio to me.

So what about you? What's your Fun-Per-Hour ratio? What is something measurable that you can count as "fun" in a game, and at one point are you disappointed in a game when you're not getting enough of it? How quickly do you know that you're not getting it?

Comments

  • I personally wouldn't use those terms for a measure, but there is certainly a threshold for when I find something rewarding enough to want to do again.


    It does make a big difference if I feel like I am doing things for others' fun, as well. I often spend lots of time on game design and preparation. I felt this keenly at one point this weekend at Big Bad Con. I was sitting in the hallway for about an hour working on character sheets for the 1001 Nights that I had signed up to run in the afternoon, while lots of people were passing by or in nearby rooms playing in games and/or socializing. However, I felt like there was a definite payoff when I ran it. (Likewise, I have nagging guilt that I need to start preparing more for what I'm running at AmberCon NorthWest next month.)

    I think people often have different thresholds depending on their expectations. For example, someone might consider it OK to put in a lot of work-like hours preparing something if they considered it "game design", but not be OK with that if they thought of it as "game prep".
  • Tricky question how to measure it. Fun should be in the game all the time if possible. But what could be counted are climaxes of fun or something like that. I like to have at least one "shit just got real" moment in games that are about suspense but I usually notice at the end of the session if it did not run well. Percentage of time spend talking in character could be a measurement or percentage of the time spend actually playing instead of table chatter. In some groups a high ratio of that is hard to get and sometimes the mood does not strike.
  • edited October 2012
    This rather assumes that fun is the goal. It needn't be. In fact, it seems unlikely: when you play many games (Mass Effect, football, Monopoly), you spend very little time actually having fun.

    I don't think my games would be better if they had more fun in them.
  • This rather assumes that fun is the goal. It needn't be. In fact, it seems unlikely: when you play many games (Mass Effect, football, Monopoly), you spend very little time actually having fun.
    None of those are games that I play regularly, but I suspect this has to do with a difference over the definition of "fun". When I play volleyball or ping pong, I would say I am having fun nearly all the time. Likewise for board games that I like, such as Pandemic or Carcassonne.
  • edited October 2012
    If my FPH drops before 50, I explode.

    Seriously, though:
    This rather assumes that fun is the goal. It needn't be. In fact, it seems unlikely: when you play many games (Mass Effect, football, Monopoly), you spend very little time actually having fun.

    I don't think my games would be better if they had more fun in them.
    This reminds me of the following passage from Ian Bogost's Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism (p118-119), in which he critiques the notion that "fun" is the only or primary metric for gameplay experiences.
    Unfortunately, [Ralph] Koster’s reliance on fun as a first principle for games forces him into a corner. On the one hand, he makes a convincing call for games that fulfill goals beyond mere entertainment. This call is especially constructive given Koster’s relative celebrity in the game design community. On the other hand, he argues that the effect games produce in their players—all games, and all players—is “fun.” This reliance on a single output for games contradicts his earlier, apparently reproachful observation that a singular expressive goal limits the medium. The reliance on fun poses a conceptual problem for Koster, who must retrofit the revolutionary potential of games to mate properly with the concept of fun that serves as his engine. Anticipating possible objections to games that go beyond fun in the usual and popular sense, Koster finds himself attributing a wide array of possible responses to the realm of the fun. “One of the commonest points I hear about why videogames are not an art form,” says Koster, “is that they are just for fun. They are just entertainment. Hopefully I’ve made it clear why that is a dangerous underestimation of fun.” This moment marks Koster’s inversion of games and their expressive output; here fun becomes the primary term, with videogame-based expression enslaved to it. Koster admits that “we may be running into definitional questions for the word ‘fun’ here,” but he prefers a “formalist perspective to actually arrive at the basic building blocks of the medium.” Like Benjamin, Koster hopes to open a space be- tween uncritical enjoyment and antagonistic critique. Despite these intentions, Koster is hard pressed to avoid the rhetoric of fun as the superficial conveyance of capital so often associated with the entertainment industry, the goal that Benjamin foresees and Postman critiques.

    Koster’s understanding of fun decouples the outcome of gameplay from pleasure in the ordinary sense, enabling other kinds of responses. But in the same gesture Koster insists that these outcomes still entail fun, albeit fun of a different kind. We might call Koster’s alternate fun fun' (fun prime), a kind of alternatereality fun that entails the social, political, and even revolutionary critique that Benjamin first envisioned for mechanically reproducible art. Despite this conceptual similarity, Koster’s insistence on grouping meaningful responses of any kind under the rubric of “fun” is simply perverse. One need go no further than everyday experience to recognize how absurd the notion of fun' is: “I couldn’t believe it when I walked in on her and Jim. I know our relationship has been mostly fun' lately, but I didn’t realize it was over.” Or: “I heard Mary’s husband had another heart attack. And so soon after her mother died . . . they’ve really been going through a lot of fun' this year.” Chris Crawford recognizes this limitation and observes its inappropriateness as a measure for the impact of a videogame. “Fun,” observes Crawford, “doesn’t quite fit the adult’s experience.”

    All that said, though, I would personally say that fun, narrowly defined as delight, enjoyment, social pleasure, whatever, is a big part of why I play RPGs and what I get out of them, regardless of what other dynamics are at play (intellectual satisfaction, fictional engagement, etc).
  • edited October 2012
    If we skip the fun part and call it "Rewarding experience per hour".

    Then I'm the sort of player that can invest a lot of time with low REPH, if I know there will be a great payoff as a result of it. I can endure long slow hour, sitting in the miserable rain playing a guard on guard duty at a LARP if I know that emotional investment and time I spent immerse in doing something quite unrewarding will pay of latter in the form of a fantastic an intense experience.

    But if I don't know that the low REPH will have a great payoff, then I'm less willing to do that. And I would never endure a game that always was low REPH that never payed off.

    I have quite a lot of time to spend on gaming, so then I can occasionally make a time consuming low REPH for a kickass payoff in the long run.
  • edited October 2012
    I view it as the slowfood and fastfood of roleplaying.

    There are awesome fastfood you can cook really quickly, and there are awesome slowfood you need to spend a lot on time on. They are different, taste differently, but non is inherently better or worse then the other. Whenever they are worth the time investment will depend on how much time you have on your hands, what food you like and how much you like the cooking in itself, not just the end result.
  • @w176 - I guess that makes PbF the gas station burrito that you didn't even bother to microwave.
  • Or the delicious cold pizza slice you ate standing next to the fridge. Superfastfood can be amazing as well.
  • edited October 2012
    I expect it to be all "fun", all "reward", all the time, or there's a hiccup. An FPH of 1.0. I played in a convention scenario of Monsterhearts last night, and it was solid all the way through, whether I was in the spotlight, or just watching the other characters' scenes, or planning my next move, or whatever. It was all good, and it wasn't even, like, a "peak" gaming experience. It was just a good game. Isn't gaming like this almost all the time, which is why we do it?
  • edited October 2012
    Regarding Jenskot's intense two hours and long lonely play, don't forget that over time, he'll forget the long part but retain the intense part. If you adjust FPH to Real Fun Per Hour, measured as happiness buying power, his ratio might have actually been extremely high.
  • edited October 2012
    Hans_c-o: To keep up my slowrpg slowfood analogy. Sometimes for me it worth it to put in the craftsmanship and loving work to let a slow steak or stew slowcook for hours. That time spend on that is a rewarding experiences too, but in a different way. It might not be "time effective", but is something is worth doing it can be worth doing slowly.
  • Hans_c-o: To keep up my slowrpg slowfood analogy. Sometimes for me it worth it to put in the craftsmanship and loving work to let a slow cook for hours. That time spend is a rewarding experiences too, but in a different way. It might not be "time effective", but is something is worth doing it can be worth doing slowly.
    I can totally understand that, especially with your LARP example (I am not an experienced or even really novice LARPer); that seems to be a whole different thing entirely, in terms of talking about FPH (but maybe not?).

    I guess I'm not entirely seeing the divide here, though, even in Steve's original post. Is prep unsatisfying work or is it a rewarding engagement with the game? Whenever prep starts to feel like unsatisfying work to me I get reeeeal suspicious and wonder why I'm wasting my leisure time.
  • edited October 2012
    I guess I'm not entirely seeing the divide here, though, even in Steve's original post. Is prep unsatisfying work or is it a rewarding engagement with the game? Whenever prep starts to feel like unsatisfying work to me I get reeeeal suspicious and wonder why I'm wasting my leisure time.
    I see gaming as a craft or an art. As an artist or craftman I know that at times ever minute you spend om something is a joy, and other times you have to get some hard and boring work done to get the result you want. Even if you love you craft, you might not love every minute of it.

    Where there moment I swore and hated my sew machine and my other tools making this gear? Hell yeah. (It was totally worth if because of the game expeince as well) https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/113570059682207504673/albums/5766580083911017745/5766580113381686994

    Did I bang my heads against the table working on the shades around her lips? Hell yeah. http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/230/f/c/red__purple_and_green_by_w176-d46zjzx.jpg

    Can I spend time playing roleplaying games or LARPs where my FPH is frustratingly low? Hell yeah.

    Can the end result or overall experience be totally worth it?

    Definitely.

  • edited October 2012
    Some radical aestheticians actually suggested that pleasure/enjoyment be calculated in units called "hedons." No joke.
  • edited October 2012
    I personally wouldn't use those terms for a measure, but there is certainly a threshold for when I find something rewarding enough to want to do again.
    Yeah, I'm with you on that.


    Honestly, at this point in my life I've figured out that the absolute most rewarding thing about gaming is who I'm gaming with: if the game itself is great, that's just gravy. I like my friends, they're funny and smart and together we can have a great time with a lot of games. Sitting down at the table with them is honestly one of the highlights of my week, damn near every week of the year. I don't know what that breaks down to in per-minute terms (because what kind of person could even guess at a number like that?), but in terms of "rewarding enough to do again," it does very well.

    But if you took my friends out of that equation, then you'd be taking out the one thing that I can't get from any of the many other rewarding activities available to me, and gaming by itself probably wouldn't meet my reward threshold. Or more accurately, it would be one of the last options on a very long list of other stuff I could be doing with my time.

  • I see gaming as a craft or an art. As an artist or craftman I know that at times ever minute you spend om something is a joy, and other times you have to get some hard and boring work done to get the result you want. Even if you love you craft, you might not love every minute of it.

    Where there moment I swore and hated my sew machine and my other tools making this gear? Hell yeah. (It was totally worth if because of the game expeince as well) https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/113570059682207504673/albums/5766580083911017745/5766580113381686994

    Did I bang my heads against the table working on the shades around her lips? Hell yeah. http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/230/f/c/red__purple_and_green_by_w176-d46zjzx.jpg

    Can I spend time playing roleplaying games or LARPs where my FPH is frustratingly low? Hell yeah.

    Can the end result or overall experience be totally worth it?

    Definitely.

    Oh, OK. Yes. I am with you 100% on this. My first post was just talking about, like, at the table. I tend to get pretty maximal satisfaction at the table, with the right people.
  • I'm also talking about at the table.

    I'm not aiming for maximum of rewarding experiences per minute ar hour at the table. I'm aiming at the maximum gaming experiences over all. That can mean that having less fun hours, and less fun sessions at the table is it helps build up toward a more rewarding experiences over all.
  • Psychologists have done experiments on people's experience of things like painful medical procedures and have found that their overall perception afterwards isn't well correlated to an "area under the curve" model (you get things like the peak-end effect, apparently). If people's moment-to-moment enjoyment doesn't translate in a linear way to their overall enjoyment of an experience as the experiments seem to suggest then it raises some interesting questions about what you should select for when choosing or designing a game.
  • I'm not sure how to measure fun in discrete terms: "How many funs did you have at this game? Two? Ten?"

    If you take the comedy tv series analogy, realize that the laugh moments don't work without the setup. If it takes a few minutes to set up a little laugh and ten minutes, maybe the entire episode, to set up a big laugh, that's all time you need to get to the fun. Furthermore, if you're not entirely engaged with those trans-laugh periods, it's likely the laugh moments won't have any punch.

    Gaming is similar. The best you can shoot for is fulltime engagement by the players. If they're willingly engaged with the game, they're probably having lots of fun. If they're sleeping between combat rounds, taking frequent smoke breaks while other people role-play, or talking amongst themselves about non-game stuff, they're not engaged and they're probably not having fun doing the gaming thing. They might be having fun doing the social thing.

    I shoot for 100% engagement. All my friends at the table, engaged with the game, all the time. I doubt I ever reach 100%, but it's a fine goal. The further I get from that mark, the more I wonder if we should just hang out, shoot the shit, and watch a movie.
  • Maybe it would be easier to count boring/un-fun moments?

    It's hard for me to think back about a game and say, "OK, I had fun five times!" (With the exception of REALLY BAD games, in some of those that kind of metric would apply handily.)

    But in a good game, I can look back and think, "Yeah, I was only bored once last night, it was full-on the rest of the time!"
  • This isn't my field of expertise but it seems like it would be fruitful to pair subjective self-report of fun with objective measures of behaviors associated with boredom, e.g. frequency of looking at a conveniently located clock, number of times non-game topics come up in conversation, etc.
  • Right on.
  • Some radical aestheticians actually suggested that pleasure/enjoyment be calculated in units called "hedons." No joke.
    I'm one of them. :)
    (Utilitarianism that metaethically defines "good" using Hedonism's "maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain" requires a metric, to determine "greatest good for greatest number".) But I digress....
    -----
    Steve, when you get back to the thread: I suggest looking into the term "engagement" as applied to current management/human resources theory. It's principle elements:
    * Out of a huge set of potentially engaging elements of workplay, each employeeplayer has several priorities unique to them.
    * A companygame can only address a finite number of priorities.
    * When most/all priorities are mostly/highly satisfied, employeesplayers stick around and report high satisfaction.

    A game can only directly reinforce a subset of play priorities, can encourage some other subset through play advice and guidance, but can't do a damned thing about other elements of play.
    -----
    I'd argue that LARP is sufficiently different from TT RPGs that any attempt at comparison decays rapidly, ESPECIALLY a rate-based comparison metric (i.e., one using time as divisor).

    So "FPH" for LARP has to deal with BOTH the issue that "fun/engagement" is hard to calculate objectively AND that rate-based metrics are unparallel between TT and LARP.

    For that reason, I'd suggest folks stick to TT (or I'd suggest that Steve ask folks to stick to TT, if y'all don't believe me and he does). :P
  • [Aside: We're gonna have to start "How should I ask this question" threads, to get past all this semantic cruft so that the actual data that OPs presumably want can be collected in their main "question/poll" threads!]
  • Fun per hour is best measured in gigglewats, or rather gigglewat hours.

    Even that metric is a bit hamfisted though. really the concern is that the ampage matches the mood of the group. casual games with low ampage let people participate at their own pace, high ampage games draw the full attention of the group and keep a quick pace.

    I don't run games that require more prep than what a board game demands. Prepping a story or play structure before hand feels like I am wasting precious work hours and doing something I would rather pay someone to do for me. but some people find this work is fun so i am happy to play in their games.

    I do find fun to be an odd and limiting word. most rpgs are not fun. they are engaging as hell but most people dont think of hell as fun.
  • most rpgs are not fun.
    Really? Can you say more about that?

  • fun is one kind of engagement, suspense, horror, abuse, and many other things are also engaging. I think games like burning wheel or mouse guard are often times "not fun".

    aside from that i think overall RPGs are played for the long term benefits. like visiting a foreign country, it's not always comfortable or "fun" but you are better for having experienced it. I forget what the names for it are but there are things we do for the short term benefits and things we do for the long term benefits. I think RPG's lean toward long term benefits.
  • It's fun to hang out with friends and do whatever. If fun is all that is needed, the game can be almost as shitty as you can imagine, if your friends are fun to hang out with and do whatever with.
  • Tyler,

    I understand the concept, absolutely. But my experience of gaming is usually one of friends sitting around a table, cheering on another on, smiling, and cheering, sometimes cracking jokes, sometimes getting passionately into their characters.

    That sounds like fun to me. So I'm curious why you say "most rpgs are not fun". Are you talking about most of the *experience* of playing a game, or are you rather talking about the design of games (i.e. most published games are not fun)?
  • edited October 2012
    Typically the fun is the people, the game often provides the other forms of engagement. an example of a fun game would be something like munchkin.

    however engaging the mechanics in mouse guard can be rather scary, your friends are still fun times but the game it's self is scary and suspenseful.

    point of fact as a board game designer it can be a bit difficult to read when people enjoy or are engaged by a game, because many people frown and scratch their head when deep in thought they are enjoying the experience but it is certainly not fun.
  • For what it's worth, I don't have something in particular I'm trying to get out of this thread (i.e. its not for a game design or similar project). I think it's interesting to see how people have reacted, particularly the "games aren't meant to be fun" line of thought, which suggests to me that people have some wildly different ideas about what fun means.

    For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume that by "fun" I'm talking about a positive reward cycle- something you want or need that you get out of the game, the thing that pleases you and keeps you coming back. I think we can also assume that in most games there is a lot of low-level fun that occasionally build to exceptional peaks. Some games might be all low-level, mellow fun and others might be turned up to eleven the entire time, full of laughter and shenanigans.

    From people's responses I get the impression that what matters is the average over time- 3 relatively dull sessions leading up to something magnificent might balance out as a good game overall. Lots of lonely-fun prep work for one person that makes a really solid session for a group is certainly a standard with some RPGs. Part of what I'm interested in is how little is too little- when do you walk away from a bad game?

  • Interesting thread!

    For me, there are basically two ways a game session can be bad:

    1) If the pacing is awkward, people are hesitant, there's some page-flipping, that kind of thing. That's not a big deal if I'm playing with friends and we're starting something new or trying something new. It can be a little unpleasant at times, but it doesn't generally send me running. (It's much more of a problem when this sort of thing happens in a con game, but still understandable to some extent*.)

    2) Deal-breakingly bad, which almost always comes from the GM or facilitator, and is generally more specific than bad pacing or awkwardness. (Note that at cons, even if a deal-breaker comes up I won't *always* walk away depending on how awkward it would be.) Deal-breakers are: GM Fiat and/or railroading, and, relatedly, rules ignorance.

    It's vanishingly rare that I will consider a game unacceptably un-fun if we are playing RAW... except when *I* run a bad session, because I have high standards for myself. And because I know which games are unacceptable to me even if they are played RAW.

    Matt

    *I did walk away from a con game recently where the pacing was abysmal, but that wasn't the only problem—in fact the bad pacing was actually caused by other deal-breaking issues, namely rules ignorance / mis-application.
  • I turn away when there low FPH, with little prospect of that changing or paying off.
  • I remember when we played in my old group for 4-6 hours per session. I had one pre-planned adventure (the PCs were dolls) but just when we were about to start, two of my players said that they had to go in two hours. So I speeded things on, used really hard scene framing, and we accomplished as much in those two hours as we usually did. Six hours "fun" in two hours.

    That was an eye-opener for me. Nowadays I always use hard scene-framing (OK, with some exceptions - Psychodrame, for example).
  • edited October 2012
    I understand the concept, absolutely. But my experience of gaming is usually one of friends sitting around a table, cheering on another on, smiling, and cheering, sometimes cracking jokes, sometimes getting passionately into their characters.
    It sounds utopian! I've rarely been to game sessions that were exactly like that. Some were, but they were a minority.

    At your next gaming session, set a countdown on your watch and record how you actually feel at fifteen minute intervals.

    I'm willing to bet that, if you're honest, it's not all about positive experiences. It's about frustration, challenge, boredom, tension. On balance, you won't be experiencing any more positivity than if you were doing something else.

    And I'm willing to bet that the games you like most are not those that provide moment-to-moment "fun". (Whatever "fun" means. And, despite the quasi-scientific tone of the thread, nobody has succeeded in defining that yet.)
  • edited October 2012
    Psychologists have done experiments on people's experience of things like painful medical procedures and have found that their overall perception afterwards isn't well correlated to an "area under the curve" model (you get things like the peak-end effect, apparently). If people's moment-to-moment enjoyment doesn't translate in a linear way to their overall enjoyment of an experience as the experiments seem to suggest then it raises some interesting questions about what you should select for when choosing or designing a game.
    Definitely.

    And there are other interesting results too. For example, you're more likely to say you enjoyed something if you felt good during the final portion of it.

    So we mustn't confuse the way you feel during a game with how much you say you enjoyed a game afterwards. And so we mustn't assume that the best games (as people remember them) are the ones that produced the most positive experiences.

    Incidentally, you can test all this. During a Games on Demand session, check on players periodically and ask how much fun they're having, on a scale of one to ten. (You can do this in a minimally intrusive way.) Then, at the end, ask what their favourite games were. I bet there's no correspondence between the two.

    (While you're at it: ask a comparable group, who aren't playing a game, how much fun they're having. I'll wager that the gamers aren't experiencing significantly more fun. If I'm right, you might need to question whether games are really about fun.)
  • I think fun in this context equates to preference satisfaction. That way, every entity involved can define that for themselves and we don't even have to postulate that it's a rational process.
    Part of what I'm interested in is how little is too little- when do you walk away from a bad game?
    It depends what else is on offer. Let's say I'm at Gen Con and I've started a game in a four-hour slot. The game basically has to be less fun either of cruising the dealer room or sitting in a corner and reading or finding friends for a pick-up game. And since getting up and leaving is a little awkward (it's unfun to reveal to the other players just how much I think they suck), it has to be somewhat less fun, not just take-it-or-leave-it unfun. But if we're talking about a game with my friends at home, the opportunity cost is different. I can look at the number of free Sundays I have stretching out before me and shrug off a few mediocre sessions in the pursuit of trying new games or looking for that slow build up to something really cool. I'm also more committed to not hurting anyone's feelings when I intend to play with the people for years or I feel actual friendship with them.
    ...we mustn't assume that the best games (as people remember them) are the ones that produced the most positive experiences.
    Ha...I wrote up a paragraph questioning this before I realized I was just agreeing! So instead, what do we learn from this phenomenon? Does it say something interesting about our games?
  • I donno... I pretty strongly disagree, for myself at least, that there's not much correlation between moment-to-moment fun and overall best gaming experiences. I think back on my favorite games, and I remember that they were *both* fun on a scene level *and* had some overall thematic payoff or climactic scene or whatever. But, I have unusually high standards and unusually high level of self-awareness about my own gaming enjoyment. And... some of this is a product of playing and running S-G for a long time.

    That said, I've definitely played games that were *funny* as in amusing, but not fun. So, I agree that gaming fun is not congruent with "normal" fun.

    Matt
  • edited October 2012
    This is an extremely relevant piece of video http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/beyond-fun
    where some of us are getting this narrow definition of fun is from a movement in design that is about exploring the different ways games engage us. Fun being just one of many.

    To take another stab at the topic in question I generally like games that keep me engaged for
    about 60-90% of the play time. meaning i am actively thinking about what is going on in the game and not just chatting with friends or spacing out. I'f I am spacing out half the time I start to think about what other fun things I could be doing.

    There was a particularly bad game I was in where some players would spend about 80% of their play time trying to steal stuff and being boring materialistic looters. I had my character buy a handheld gaming device in the fiction and then started to play my nintendo DS whenever they spent another hour trying to get a better gun.

    I think a number of people here suffer from privilege blindness when it comes to how terrible most RPG groups are. These games are hard as hell to get right and find a good group to game with. if you are blessed with good groups most of the time you role play i can see why you would have trouble understanding what bad groups are like.
  • I'd love to see a game session measured by the participants with those dials they use to measure response to political debates.
  • edited October 2012
    Let's say a game has only one single instant of pure fun in it and the rest of the game is pure work to produce that single, maximal, pure hedon.

    Fun = 1

    Hours = ?

    Fun/Hours = ?

    How should we measure the hours? What if one player spends their entire life working in very much the same way as they work when preparing the game for that hedon of fun, and the game is their only alternative to that life of droll labor. There is nothing to demarcate where the game's work stage truly begins (or ends, after the fun instant is over). So is their fun per hour 1/0 = infinity, or is it 1/infinity = 0, or is it 1/(lifespan in hours) = some finite ratio?

    If we are really going to do this, we're going to have to deal with a far more complex question before we even consider the aspect of the question that deals with "fun". The "hours" part alone is a quagmire.
  • Part of what I'm interested in is how little is too little- when do you walk away from a bad game?
    Ah, OK--that's easy. I've only walked one time, and it was when the game was pitched as high-action and then we spent the whole time investigating and politicking. And I didn't walk on that until, like, the eighth session, when it was obvious that the GM wasn't ever going to offer what was pitched.

    (My favorite moment was when, after an HOUR of in-character planning and whinging, some PC asked mine "What do you think, Storm Surge?" I replied, monotone, "I am a weapon; aim me." Got that laugh... but the GM didn't get the message.)

    No... 99% of the time, the games that I am in die because of time conflicts and players making the game the lowest priority (i.e., if ANYthing else came up on that Tuesday or Thursday night, they'd bail). Or never get past the planning/prep stage (which is why I now so-prefer zero prep or prep-at-table games).

    So... I guess you'd have to ask the other players I've played with the past decade or so....
  • edited October 2012
    Graham,
    I understand the concept, absolutely. But my experience of gaming is usually one of friends sitting around a table, cheering on another on, smiling, and cheering, sometimes cracking jokes, sometimes getting passionately into their characters.
    It sounds utopian! I've rarely been to game sessions that were exactly like that. Some were, but they were a minority.

    At your next gaming session, set a countdown on your watch and record how you actually feel at fifteen minute intervals.
    I will take you up on this challenge sometime! I've done this before, but only for generally BAD games. (I have a timed transcript of one particular game I played in which is painful to read, even though some elements of the game were fun.)

    I've never tried to do this at a really good game.

    But I think another factor is, as Deliverator brings up, our standards of "gaming goodness". I've played in a lot of games that weren't so bad that I wanted to walk out, but also had lots of low points and boring moments. But I'm not thinking of those as the baseline, because I want my gaming to be better than that. (This is one reason I game very rarely.)

    My benchmark for "successful game" is quite a bit higher than that, for better or worse. So, I don't know: maybe I am mis-remembering my "good" games, or maybe my standard for a "good" game is just unreasonably high, and if I gamed more often, I'd realize just how rare those experiences are.

    Edit: To be a little clearer:

    If I take the "average" game from my gaming experience, yes, it's certainly not 100% fun, not even remotely, and yet I enjoyed those games enough to keep playing. However, I have the impression (whether it's correct or not, I don't know) that in future games I will be able to achieve a much higher level of "fun"/enjoyment consistently, and so I'm using the upper end of my game experience as my benchmark for future "successful" gaming. I expect my gaming to get better every time, not stay the same!
  • edited October 2012
    Fun is forgetting about time(death). So, if I'm looking at my watch, or clock, that's a indicator.
    And what Graham said.
    More often the most memorable games are the most nerve-racking.
    Fun is oftentimes, not that memorable
  • Oh, and I know fairly early on when I'm not having fun. I mean, who can't figure that out?
  • Let me begin this with a caveat: my group is a group of friends first and a roleplaying group second. We'd known each other for years before everyone decided to give this RPG thing a try; when the gang come over, we play a game for a couple of hours and then talk shit for a couple more.

    What this means, ultimately, is that we have a load of fun. Like, buckets. Last time we played Our Last Best Hope, one friend played their doctor as Bane, complete with accent. Does this produce great roleplaying? No, probably not - no-one's ever really in character, and the game takes a back seat to whatever crazy crap we're talking about. Last week it was how fat Val Kilmer has gotten. I'd go so far as to say that the group is probably never going to have a perfect role-playing experience.

    But boy, do we have fun.
  • Last week it was how fat Val Kilmer has gotten.
    And in such a weird way, too! Seriously, it's more like he's swollen than like he's fat. It's like a Marlon Brando/Orson Welles kind of fat, where you can just barely see the skeleton of the young actor trapped inside this larger, less mobile actor. Like someone made a Val Kilmer fat suit and then had Val Kilmer climb inside of it.

    ...yeah, that's pretty much how our game goes, too. ;-) We do get in character and have scenes where everyone is 100% focused on the game, but then we'll go off on a conversational tangent about something totally unrelated.

  • I think the most objective means of determining FPH would clearly be to use some sort of lap timer or counter that you could click every time you have fun.

    Then you take it to a con and start the timer as soon as you sit down. If the game slows down for any reason, be sure to sigh loudly, look at a player or the GM, and then hold the Fun-o-meter in front of you wistfully.

    I'm confident that any GM would be enthusiastic and motivated to excel as your clicks provided helpful, Pavlovian feedback. Likewise, the other players at the table will appreciate a binder wherein you compare their contributions to FPH agains other games at the con. "Better bump your level of fun generation 20% if you want to at least be average," you could suggest helpfully.

    Brb setting up a kickstarter
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