[Updated] Defining fun – some research results

UPDATED 27/08/2014

After a few more responses, I have realised I missed off Learning as a type of fun!!!

As many of you will have seen by now, I am running a short survey on what people find fun. So far I have had 155 results, for which I am truly grateful! Of course, I need more – so tell your friends, I am missing any answers at all from the 17 or younger age group!

However, I thought it would be fun to share some of the findings so far, show those of you that have answered so far that there is something happening with your answers. I have been categorising the answers into various types of fun, creating new types as I find answers that don’t fit into those I already have. So far this has given me 21 types of fun. Part of this process is to get your feedback on the types I have so far – are they all separate for example, or can I group a few. Also, can I group them generally beyond what I have already. I really need your feedback to help this process!

But, until there, here is what I have so far! (updated 27/08/2014)

Challenge15.8%Over coming obstacles. Attaining a sense of achievement.
Fellowship12.6%Relatedness. Being with others.
Problem solving8.9%Puzzles, use of problem solving (specifically) to over come challenges.
Exploration8.3%Deliberately looking around and testing the boundaries.
Sensation6.7%Joy in physical sensation. Smell, activity, sport, touch etc.
Discovery6.0%Finding new or interesting things, deliberately or not.
Creativity5.5%Building, inventing, creating new things (music, art etc)
Surprise5.0%The joy of the unexpected.
Competition4.6%You vs. the world.
Fantasy4.4%Make believe
Learning3.2%Learning new things, mastery.
Collaboration3.2%Working with others on a common goal.
Narrative3.0%Stories and plot lines.
Family2.8%Joy from your relatives – not that same as fellowship.
Humour2.5%Different for everyone, but jokes, funny stories and situations.
Altruism2.1%Selfless acts, sense of some kind of greater purpose.
Progression2.1%The feeling that what you are doing is leading to something.
Immersion1.1%Believing in the fantasy world totally and losing yourself to it.
Curiosity1.1%Wanting to know what is in the box, what happens next, what is around the corner.
Flow0.9%As described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, losing your sense of self in an activity
Schadenfreude0.2%Pleasure in the suffering of others.

There are a few there that look like they may be the same, but I have also split them in my mind between facilitated experiences and internal. So the joy of creativity is intrinsic – you don’t need external guidance or facilitation. However,  something like narrative needs to be created and facilitated extrinsically.

Fun Types 27082014 Updated Defining fun 8211 some research results
Fun Types Updated 27/08/2014

Challenge comes up a lot as something you guys find fun as does fellowship. This does not surprise me though, Relatedness and Achievement!  Things related to Autonomy are also high up, such as exploration. Altruism is low scoring, but other ideas related to greater Purpose are in there, but lower than I might expect.

If nothing else, it shows that defining fun is really REALLY hard! People find so many things in so many combinations fun. Just because you find it fun, doesn’t mean others will.  You have a good shot if you add challenge though it seems.

As I say, this is just the first run at the results and I hope to collect a lot more data over the coming months. I am sure some of the ideas will change!!  Please comment and add ideas though and if you have not done so yet – take the survey!. Oh, one thing to note.  No one there has said they enjoy collecting points and badges 😉

Quick note. The thickness of the circles just shows how often the type has appeared in the survey – does not relate to importance.

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13 thoughts on “[Updated] Defining fun – some research results”

  1. Wow this looks amazing! Have you done any updates on this? Let me know if I can assist on it! I’m quite interested in the topic. Perhaps it could be amplified to reach beyond this audience (which I guess is those of us interested in game thinking)

  2. I like the way you are setting up Intrinsic/Extrinsic, Personal/Facilitated categories. Your research reminded me of something I read recently that you might find sparks some additional ideas for you. In Jon Radoff’s book Game On: Energizing Your Business with Social Media Games he lists 42 things that people find fun and then creates a matrix of how these items might align with the 16 human motivators identified by Dr. Steven Reiss.

  3. Interesting findings, what it does for me is raise some more questions: is fun personal and based on your own experience? Even does fun vary for the individual on a day to day basis (it does somewhat for me)? Can challenge not be an intrinsic motivated option also, for example I set myself min-challenges to get stuff done?

    • Yes to all of the above. Fun is personal. What I find fun – you may not. I may find certain things fun when I have lots of energy but not when I am tired. As for intrinsic / extrinsic – yes that is a soft division. I am looking at it from a very very general point of view. Generally a challenge is set and one has to overcome it – so it is facilitated. You may be the person who sets the challenge though. Possibly a division between fun and joy. Fun is facilitated and requires some sort of deliberate interaction, joy is an intrinsic emotional response to something (like parental joy at seeing a child walk). I don’t claim to know – I’m just reporting the results 🙂
      Andrzej Marczewski
      Sent from my mobile device

  4. Interesting findings! But how did you calculate it? For example the last one “Schadenfreude” got 0.3%… With 141 results (respondents?).

    Also, keep in mind people might not be completely aware of what mechanics they really think is fun 😉

    • That particular one was the result of 1 mention of Schadenfreude. Each response may associate to more than one “type” of fun, so 141 responses yielded multiple types. As for mechanics, I very deliberately just ask “what do you find fun”. Not “what do you find fun in games”. So I am not looking at mechanics etc, just their interpretation of what they enjoy. Not scientific, but interesting.

  5. Excelent job!!. Maybe are you thinking about building a, apugraded Players Type Framework? I’ll follow absolutely interested this thorough study


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