Why I Hate Fun
I hate fun. Or rather, I hate the word “fun” but I get accused of hating fun itself from time to time. When explaining my play preferences to others, I am often met with the phrase, “I prefer to just have fun.” I find that highly insulting as it suggests that what I’m talking about somehow isn’t fun.
I hope the idea that what one person finds fun another person might find tediously dull has become obvious and second nature to most of gamer culture by now. That point isn’t the focus of this article. Instead I want to talk about an interesting trend I’ve noticed among those who do share my play preferences (at least to the point that I’ve played games I like with them successfully). The trend I’ve noticed is their reluctance to describe the play experience as “fun.”
What I’ve recently learned is that, for some, the word “fun” carries with it a sense of frivolity. As such people are reluctant to apply the word “fun” to something something like Grey Ranks. Instead they use words like “satisfying” or “rewarding” or “worthwhile.” Which is odd to me because if something isn’t “satisfying,” “rewarding,” or “worthwhile” to me then it isn’t “fun” either. I simply do not attach that same sense of frivolousness to “fun” that some people do. So to me, Grey Ranks is simply fun.
More recently I played “A Flower for Mara” during which I revealed one of my most foundational childhood moments and cried through out the whole thing. I still had fun and was very entertained even though the profound emotional effect of the game took almost two full days to wear off. In the past I’ve been accused of enjoying “social violence,” of being “an emotional masochist,” and even being a “sadistic” GM. Maybe I am but I would never do any of that without my fellow players’ consent.
This has unfortunately created the impression, to some, that I don’t like games with strong color. This is highly inaccurate because color is extremely important to me. What I don’t like is reveling in color for color’s sake. It’s not that I don’t enjoy punching robot Nazis in the face, it’s that I want my punching robot Nazi’s in the face to be grounded in something recognizably human beyond simply enjoying the image of my character punching a robot Nazi in the face.
That said, I fully admit that my colors of choice tend to run blood red, passion purple and moral grey but they’re bright vivid and highly contrasted glossy comic book shades of those colors. I prefer “It Was A Mutual Decision” over “A Flower For Mara” even though they both deal with highly personal, grief related emotions because the former has a wererat in it. I prefer “Dogs in the Vineyard” to “Dirty Secrets” because while they’re both about rooting out social corruption the former has demons and sorcerers in it. (Don’t get me wrong, I love and highly recommend “A Flower for Mara” and “Dirty Secrets” both very very much).
So in the end I will continue to use the word “fun” to describe my emotionally tumultuous play preferences. But please keep in mind that I like to be emotionally tumultuous while punching robot Nazi’s in the face.