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This article is about the term. For other uses, see Fun (disambiguation).
Children having fun during a snowball fight
Surfers enjoying their sport

Fun is the enjoyment of pleasure, particularly in leisure activities. Fun is an experience - short-term, often unexpected, informal, not cerebral and generally purposeless. It is an enjoyable distraction, diverting the mind and body from any serious task or contributing an extra dimension to it. Although particularly associated with recreation and play, fun may be encountered during work, social functions, and even seemingly mundane activities of daily living. It may often have little to no logical basis, and opinions on whether or not an activity is fun may differ. A distinction between enjoyment and fun is difficult but possible to articulate,[1] fun being a more spontaneous, playful, or active event. There are psychological and physiological implications to the experience of fun.

fun is funny--Italic text


Many physical activities provide opportunities to play and have fun.

Opportunities for fun
Snowballing (Tallahassee 1899) 
Children in a playground fountain (Frankfurt 2006) 
Adults playing (Chicago 2006) 
Pillow Fight (Warsaw 2010) 


Employment poster about the importance of fun

According to Johan Huizinga, fun is "an absolutely primary category of life, familiar to everybody at a glance right down to the animal level."[2] Psychological studies reveal both the importance of fun and its effect on the perception of time, which is sometimes said to be shortened when one is having fun.[3][4] As the adage says: "Time flies when you're having fun".

It has been suggested that games, toys, and activities perceived as fun are often challenging in some way. When a person is challenged to think consciously, overcome challenge and learn something new, they are more likely to enjoy a new experience and view it as fun. A change from routine activities appears to be at the core of this perception, since people spend much of a typical day engaged in activities that are routine and require limited conscious thinking. Routine information is processed by the brain as a "chunked pattern": "We rarely look at the real world", according to game designer Raph Koster, "we instead recognize something we have chunked, and leave it at that. [...] One might argue that the essence of much of art is in forcing us to see things as they really are rather than as we assume them to be".[5] Since it helps people to relax, fun is sometimes regarded as a "social lubricant", important in adding "to one's pleasure in life" and helping to "act as a buffer against stress".[6]

For children, fun is strongly related to play and they have great capacity to extract the fun from it in a spontaneous and inventive way. Play "involves the capacity to have fun - to be able to return, at least for a little while, to never-never land and enjoy it."[6]


Some scientists have identified areas of the brain associated with the perception of novelty, which are stimulated when faced with "unusual or surprising circumstances". Information is initially received in the hippocampus, the site of long-term memory consolidation, where the brain attempts to match the new information with recognizable patterns stored in long-term memory. When it is unable to do this, the brain releases dopamine, a chemical which stimulates the amygdala, the site of emotion, and creates a pleasurable feeling that is associated with the new memory.[7] In other words, fun is created by stimulating the brain with novelty.

In popular culture[edit]

Are we having fun yet?

In the modern world, fun is sold as a consumer product in the form of games, novelties, television, toys and other amusements. Marxist sociologists such as the Frankfurt School criticise mass-manufactured fun as too calculated and empty to be fully satisfying. Bill Griffith satirises this dysphoria when his cartoon character Zippy the Pinhead asks mechanically, "Are we having fun yet?".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alan Dix. "Fun Systematically". Retrieved November 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ Bruce C. Daniels. Puritans at Play. Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1995. p. xiii. ISBN 0-312-12500-3. 
  3. ^ Sackett, A.; Meyvis, T.; Nelson, L.; Converse, B.; Sackett, A. (2010). "You're having fun when time flies: the hedonic consequences of subjective time progression". Psychological science : a journal of the American Psychological Society / APS 21 (1): 111–117. doi:10.1177/0956797609354832. PMID 20424031.  edit
  4. ^ Glynn, Sarah (August 2012). "Why Time Flies When You're Having Fun". Medical News Today. Retrieved 2013-02-06. "Just being content or satisfied may not make time fly, but being excited or actively pursuing a desired object can." 
  5. ^ Koster, Raph (2010). Theory of Fun for Game Design. O'Reilly Media, Inc. p. 22. ISBN 9781449314972. 
  6. ^ a b Urdang, Esther (2008). Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Interweaving the Inner and Outer Worlds (2nd ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 445. ISBN 978-0-7890-3417-5. 
  7. ^ Sprenger, Marilee B. (2009). The Leadership Brain For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 50. ISBN 9780470600054. 
  8. ^ Mark Blythe, Marc Hassnzahl (2004), "The Semantics of Fun", Funology, Springer, pp. 91–100, ISBN 9781402029660 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]