According to Raph Koster in his book A Theory of Fun for Game Design, a successful game has six successful elements:

  • Preparation 

              Practicing in advance, gearing up for battle, building a poker hand

  • A Sense of Space 

                ​Landscape, board, relationships between players

  • A Solid Core Mechanic

              Interesting ruleset, movement, recurring puzzle

  • A Range of Challenges

              Content; enemies, environmental obstacles

  • A Range of Abilities Required to Solve

              Variety; multiple tools, special moves

  • Skill Required to Use These Abilities 

               Not based on luck; based on timing, dexterity, etc.

In addition, three other features are required to make it a good learning experience:

  • A Variable Feedback System
    • The outcome of any encounter should not be completely predictable
  • The Mastery Problem must be dealt with
    • High level players cannot get too much out of easy encounters
  • Failure Must Have a Cost
    • There must be at least an opportunity cost, otherwise preparation would mean nothing
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