It's the old fashioned question about "games". Gamers and developers are somewhat guilty of a real ambiguity here. On one side, they want to be regarded as a new kind of artistic production, just like cinema or photography, painting, etc., so also games can be something "more" than fun, they can be art in themselves (not "contain" art, but "be" art). On the other, whenever someone makes a literary critique of it and starts to point out their shortcomings in the cultural sense, they get all uppity and annoyed and rant **** like "it's just to be FUN and you are RUINING IT with your culture shenanigans". You make it seem like the a.) industry is one singular being b.) that this whole singular being is a hypocrite
I think this industry hasn't resolved this question as of yet.
The side that wants to be regarded as a new kind of artistic production are often not the same people that get all uppity and annoyed and rant **** like "it's just to be FUN and you are RUINING IT with your culture shenanigans".
I think I am entitled to portray the industry as a "singular being", at least in the same manner that people think of "cinema", "comics", "sculpture", etc. as enoughy "singular" so we can speak of them as "arts". For instance, while many movies would not be considered by many to be "artistic", everyone agrees nowadays that cinema is an Art by excellence. And it's fine that many movies aren't artistic pieces, I love to be entertained as anyone else, but I will always be free to analyse their artistic achievements (or not) because it is an art.
I bring cinema for a reason. In the beggining of the 20th century, cinema wasn't considered an art and there were a lot of debates around this issue. It was eventually settled positively. I think "games" are still in the purgatory phase of this question. We will, as a society, decide whether if games are an art or not and what that entails. For instance "Papers, please" was cited as an "artsy" game that isn't fun but is "artsy", etc. Well, that is somewhat tangencial and irrelevant. I think that game was more of a case study, more of a small experiment from a developer to
developers (or anyone interested in these issues more deeply).
Take both the books and movies of Twillight
, winning gazillions of cash and compare them with some random obscure (yet brilliant) artistic book. These gradients exist in every art form. Compare the Avengers or the Transformers with this list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_considered_the_best
and you'll giggle at the comparison. I even think that the very particulars, the techical singularities of games are still very much unexplored in an analytical way, although new words are being invented to convey this (like Kinaesthetics, etc.).
Finally, I post this video in order to end any discussion regarding fun! in games