Why fun?

by Bernard De Koven on June 11, 2010

I published a new article on deepFUN.com – explaining why all this, and all me, is about fun. The article, Why Fun?, begins like this:

People, (well, actually, in this case, a person, a friend, if you really want to know) ask (asked, the other day) me why I’ve made fun such a central focus of my work/life.

The rest of the article is my answer.

You can read it on the site (in all its attendant resplendence). On the other hand, since you’ve already started, you might as well read the rest here:

I started out with “games.” This was back in 1968, when I was working with bunches of elementary school kids, intending to teach them how to create their own theater, winding up learning from them how I could create my own games. I got very, very excited about games. Very. Because: 1) the kids understood them, understood how to stage them, how to act in them, how to improve them (you can read more about this in my article The Theater of Games); and 2) because there were so many games to learn, and teach – games from all around the world. Playground games, street games, backyard games, field games, sports, board games, pub games, learning games, simulation games. I could, and did, go on and on and on.

Then, when I started to teach kids games to adults, it turned out that the game language was such a powerful tool for us to explore just about everything that had to do anything with human relationships, with society, with culture, with business, with organizations. Because the language of games is in fact the language of relationships. You can’t talk about “being IT” without somehow implying or describing what it means to be “not-IT.” You can’t talk intelligently about fairness, about competition, about winning without considering cheating, cooperation, losing.

And by the time I wrote The Well-Played Game, well, as far as I could tell, I could express everything I knew about living as pretty much entirely a game. Next time you read through that book, pretend that it’s not about games at all, but about life, and living the good one, and you’ll see what I mean.

After a while, though, I guess about the time I became a full time game designer, the “game thing” kind of bottomed out for me. Yeah, yeah, I could explain everything I was doing as if it were a game, and I could do it for you, too, but it really wasn’t. It might have been like a game. But it was also something more. And there was all that game theory stuff, and that Games People Play stuff (which alone just about ruined it for me). “Game” turned out to be not comprehensive enough for me. Too susceptible to shades of meaning. I needed a word that brought me closer to the spirit of it all.

Which is what led me to “play.”

Ah, play. What a lovely word to be using. So childlike. Yet so divine. The play of the gods and planets and seasons, animal play, the philosophy, the psychology, the anthropology, and all that. (To get a sense of the depth and width of it all, try a quick search for “play” on Amazon) And I could get so profound, so engaged, so starry-eyed talking, thinking, reading about play. Ah, the freedom, the depth. It was the 60s and yet it was the 80s. Yet, despite the apparently endless opportunities the word “play” brought to my poetic wax, it seemed, in sum, to prove even less accessible than “game.”

And then there was “fun.” A word that had remarkably little panache, profundity, or poetic punch. A word that had hardly any respect. A kind of low-class, everyman word. And yet, the more I thought about it, the deeper and more profound it became. Everything I wanted to do had something to do with fun. Everything I wanted to understand, to experience, to teach – fun. So accessible. So tangible. So mundane. So vivid.

I know, I know. “Fun” isn’t any more precise of a word than play or game. So far, in my posts about “54 Flavors of Fun,” I’ve noted at least 70 different kinds of fun. But, regardless of all the different kinds of fun, fun, is, after all, fun.

We like games because we like to play. We like to play because it’s fun.

So, that’s me for now. All about fun. Deep fun, for sure. As deep as I can make it and still share it. But, fun, nevertheless. And sometimesthemore.

from Bernie DeKoven, FUNcoach


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