Sebastian Deterling’s presentation, Ruling the World: When Life Gets Gamed, is a profound and thought-provoking critique of what has become known as gamification. In describing how making a game out of things can lead to less than desirable consequences, he mentions another game – Brenda Brathwaite’s simulation game Train. He comments:
On the surface, Train is a transportation game with the goal to move as many people as quickly as possible from start to finish. So you have to move fast and stack people efficiently. But when the first player‘s train reaches the destination, he has to draw a ‘Terminus’ card, which reveals his destination. And on those cards, the player reads words like Auschwitz. Or Bergen-Belsen. Just following orders, he discovers that he has become an Adolf Eichmann, ‘just following orders.’ That he never questioned the goal he was given, or the intention of the system he was operating in.
This made me think not just about gamification, but also about fun itself. And again about one particular flavor of fun, which I’ve referred to previously as “good fun” (see Meaningful Fun, Major Fun, and Deep Fun, too). Given how fun can be used towards ends that are its opposite, it seemed to me that it might be worth our collective whiles to delve a bit more deeply into the kind of fun that we are, after all, here to celebrate and nurture.
Good fun is a healing kind of fun. Healing itself is fun of the good kind, whether you’re healing yourself or the world. The fun that characterizes much of the experience of those who volunteer to be part of things like Doctors Without Borders. The fun of doing good.
Then there’s the kind of fun that I describe in my post My Kind of Fun – the fun that comes from playing well together, or from games that just make you laugh together, or just from laughing together.
And loving fun – the fun of loving, the fun of playing lovingly.
These are all good kinds of fun. And the more you think about it, the more of kinds of good fun you’ll discover. Like the fun of caring for someone you care about, the fun of teaching and learning, of listening and watching and tasting and smelling good air and feeling clean clothes, of touching an being touched, of glee, exuberance, accomplishment, of remembering your childhood, of wrestling with your children, of making a list of the things that are fun for you.
A playful path is the shortest road to happiness.
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