Friday, September 10, 2010

Pleasant Anticipation: Vorfreude

Most English speakers know the German word Schadenfreude.

What they probably do not know is that there is also no Englisch word for another German one: "Vorfreude".
In this context "freude" can be translated as "fun" and "Vorfreude" means something like "pleasant anticipation".

And then there is a German proverb: "Vorfreude ist die beste Freude".
Which could be translated to: "Pleasant anticipation is the best fun there is."

Now, I don't want to teach German here.
This proverb contains some wisdom, I think, especially when it comes to MMOs. When you "grind" heroic dungeons in World of Warcraft for the first time, it is a lot of fun. This is not because the isolated activity is a lot of fun. It is because you anticipate future rewards and this anticipation itself is fun; in fact: the best fun. Because, as soon as you got all the items you will probably hate heroic dungeons and the joy of having gained all the items does not match the prior "pleasant anticipation" for long; if ever.

When I wrote about the Fun Fallacy I mentioned that "circumstances matter". Actions do not have some mysterious inherent fun attached to them. Instead, circumstances matter. Fun is not derived from an isolated activity, but from an activity that is embedded in the rest of the game.

Vorfreude is one of the most prominent circumstances, especially in a reward-driven game like World of Warcraft. But it is very powerful in all avatar-progression-based games; that includes most sandboxes and themeparks.

Therefore, when discussing fun, we always need to remember that the anticipation of fun is fun in itself. In fact, it is usually more and longer lasting fun than anything else.

1 comment:

  1. its very true that vorfreude or in game's cases often 'hype', often plays a bigger part than the real thing itself. it's a treacherous thing really because too much hype can easily end in disappointment.

    on another note: i actually thought the proverb goes "schadenfreude ist die beste freude", hehe.