Dare to keep it playful – Dan Hon on keeping the fun in games

Dan Hon‘s TEDx Transmedia talk DAREtoPLAY is a lovely build on and partial riposte to Seth Prietbatsch’s presentation I posted here yesterday.

As someone who has played with and in and designed transmedia games and stories (the same thing, really) for a good long while, Dan’s got a great perspective on this whole area. He makes a plea for playfulness, putting his finger on some disquiet I had watching Seth’s presentation, that the “gaming layer” thesis could be seen as being about little more than the cynical manipulation of the masses (cue the pricking up of old-school marketer ears.

There’s something sordid and resistance-worthy about the idea of “gameification” as the latest quick-fix way to drive sales, change behaviours, fuel greed.

You can create a compulsive game that people are driven to return to, says Dan, but if it is joyless and cynical and pointless they will start to resent it. Watch the whole video for the delicious slide showing a discontented Farmville player’s protest at their addiction (I’d love to show it here, but it would definitely be stealing the wind from his sails).

I’d like to hear Dan go further on this topic, I suspect he has a lot more to say, but for now he leaves us with a plea to keep the fun in games, the playfulness.

Being an optimist, I’m hoping that people will quickly evolve their awareness of game mechanics as a ploy to manipulate them and zone them out just as they filter out and ignore interruptive advertising.

: : Nota bene: I *know* I used a lot of quotation marks in this post: yes, they were stylistic tongs for holding words and phrases I’m not comfortable with, but also to indicate that that they are still unfamiliar. they may turn out to be really useful, you never know. I probably felt the same way about “social media” once…

Leave a Reply