> Skip to content
  • Published: 12 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780262039352
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $47.99

Fun, Taste, & Games

An Aesthetics of the Idle, Unproductive, and Otherwise Playful



Reclaiming fun as a meaningful concept for understanding games and play.“Fun” is somewhat ambiguous. If something is fun, is it pleasant? Entertaining? Silly? A way to trick students into learning? Fun also has baggage—it seems inconsequential, embarrassing, child's play. In Fun, Taste, & Games, John Sharp and David Thomas reclaim fun as a productive and meaningful tool for understanding and appreciating play and games. They position fun at the heart of the aesthetics of games. As beauty was to art, they argue, fun is to play and games—the aesthetic goal that we measure our experiences and interpretations against.
Sharp and Thomas use this fun-centered aesthetic framework to explore a range of games and game issues—from workplace bingo to Meow Wolf, from basketball to Myst, from the consumer marketplace to Marcel Duchamp. They begin by outlining three elements for understanding the drive, creation, and experience of fun: set-outsideness, ludic forms, and ambiguity. Moving from theory to practice and back again, they explore the complicated relationships among the titular fun, taste, and games. They consider, among other things, the dismissal of fun by game journalists and designers; the seminal but underinfluential game Myst, and how tastes change over time; the shattering of the gamer community in Gamergate; and an aesthetics of play that goes beyond games.

  • Published: 12 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9780262039352
  • Imprint: MIT Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $47.99

About the authors

David Thomas

David Thomas is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph, and until 2003 he also wrote a weekly sports column for London's Evening Standard, in which he bemoaned the plight of his beloved West Ham. He lives in Sussex with his wife and three children.

Praise for Fun, Taste, & Games

[A] revelatory account of an essential element of our lives.—TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION

Related titles