Games must be interactive and fun; if they aren’t, they don’t get played. But what do the words interactive and fun really mean? A fuller and more detailed understanding of these concepts is crucial to effective game design.

In this chapter we construct a systemic understanding of interactivity, along with what goes on in the player’s mind as part of interacting with and becoming engaged by a game. With this understanding, we are able to define in systemic, practical terms how interactivity and engagement create fun and how we can build them into games.

The Player’s Part of the Game as a System

In Chapter 3, “Foundations of Games and Game Design,” we defined games and the overall game+player system. As noted there, ...

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