fourkeysbadgeThe 4 Keys to Fun

At XEODesign (pronounced zee-oh-design) we increase engagement with fun. We help our clients attract new markets to capitalize on players' hidden motivations through game mechanics and game-like interactions.

Our continuing research on why we play games helps us unearth new methods for increasing engagement with play. In 2004, we discovered The 4 Keys to Fun, a model that demystifies how best-sellers create captivating play, rich experiences, and strong player re-engagement. Pulled from the facial expression of hundreds of players, this trend-setting research lays the foundation for gamification.

The 4 Keys to Fun: the game mechanics that drive play
  1. Easy Fun (Novelty): Curiosity from exploration, role play, and creativity
  2. Hard Fun (Challenge): Fiero, the epic win, from achieving a difficult goal
  3. People Fun (Friendship): Amusement from competition and cooperation
  4. Serious Fun (Meaning): Excitement from changing the player and their world

4 Keys to Fun Resources:

fourkeysbadgeFeatured Talk

GDC 2014: The 4 Emotions That
Monetize Free-to-Play Games

Come find out how games such as Candy Crush Saga, and Clash of Clans use 4 emotions to increase player spending in free-to-play games.

Click here to view more information about the Talk, and download the infographic.


[Full Sized View]


Shakespeare designed the emotional space between characters. Game developers design the emotional space between player and game. In these videos, Nicole Lazzaro explains how to create the emotions that drive the legendary engagement of games.

Featured Videos:


VideosWhite Papers

The 4 Keys demystifies how best-sellers create captivating play, rich experiences, and strong player re-engagement. Download the only white paper and poster you’ll ever need to create great player experiences: the Four Keys to Fun.

Featured Whitepapers:



Peruse public talks by Nicole Lazzaro on creating engagement with play. To serve our clients better and refine our cutting-edge techniques, XEO conducts independent research. Nicole Lazzaro shares select insights at leading conferences such as DICE, E3, and GDC as well as in private talks for Intuit, Nokia, HP, Intel, and Yahoo!. By understanding why we play games, our clients can innovate and capitalize on new opportunities with less risk.

Featured Slideshares:



Download PowerPoint slide decks on the 4 Keys from the XEODesign Archive to see how social emotions will soon transform online content distribution. Included are Apple's entry into mobile games (2007), and how social emotions drive the viral potential of games played on Facebook (2008) and YouTube videos (2005). XEODesign has used this research and proven methodologies to invent Tilt World, the iPhone's first accelerometer game.

Featured Downloads:

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