The different skill levels of the players will influence how they perceive fun. As mentioned earlier, fun is only potential, and the more a player develops her skills, the more she can understand and appreciate.
A simple approach would be to break down the audience into three categories:
Those are not necessarily representative of their physical skill level, but more their mentality, because physical skills can be lost over time due to a lack of practice.
The newcomer is obviously new to the game and mostly cares about something basic: ''I just want to shoot people''. If we were to design a map for them, it would be smaller and more chaotic.
The pro players need the total opposite. They would instead need a map that offers better pacing and plenty of tricks and strategy. The advanced players are right in the middle and can enjoy both aspects of the game.
Ideally, a game should offer gameplay and maps that can please the three categories of players. More importantly, every multiplayer game should also offer a system that matches the players based on their categories. Otherwise, pro players will always give a hard time to newcomers, and some of them might just not enjoy their experience at all.
We do not create experiences that are fun to a very specific degree. As said earlier, fun is relative to the past experiences of the players and to everything created in the past. What game developers do is give to players tools; by taking advantage of those, they can experience fun, to a certain degree.
Usually, the fun will also increase as the player progresses in mastery of the game. By improving her skills, she will increase the degree of memorable moments that happen. That will also intensify the degree of fun -- and that's why games are so enjoyable.
However, game developers must also make sure that the learning curve isn't too intimidating. Some games lack sufficient information or tutorials, and players can't understand how to play them, or what about them is fun. A lot of multiplayer games suffer from that problem, and that can be easily solved.
We have to be aware of what has been done before, as it is important to not repeat past mistakes.
If you want to get better at creating a blueprint, then you have to study pretty much everything. Be aware of what is going on, anticipate what is coming next, and develop the ability to find holes in the market. To study and understand marketing and psychology might also help a lot.
If you want to get better at creating context, what is perceptible, it's going to be difficult. You would have to study anything artistic; music, films, video games, photography, etc.
If you want to get better at creating a mechanism, then I suggest you play and study a lot of games, sports, and martial arts. I would suggest to any designer to take one game and spend enough time to master it. There are things that can only be properly understood once they're truly experienced. In reality, the more we master an experience, the more others become alike, because everything in this universe is based on the same principles. We realize that the same mechanics are used, but in a different context. By doing this, it becomes easier to create interesting gameplay mechanics or learn how to fix them.
To create more emotive experiences is probably the most difficult task, because it still is fairly new to game developers. It is always a plus to understand what makes other passions so great. Films, books, video games, and the daily news might be great things to look at if you need inspiration. Most humorists understand how to trick the audience, add a twist to a story, and trigger very specific emotions.
If you want to get better at creating a result or a reward, video games are obviously the best reference.
If you want to create a great realization, then at least make sure the experience was worth it, and better than what you experienced before.
I tend to think that to study the greatest games of all time would help us to better understand how to make better games. However, those games are often so engaging that we might not see how to make greater things, because when we play them, we aren't thinking critically about how they're constructed; we're experiencing them as players. However, if we play the worst games, then everything frustrating will jump in our faces. Then we will see what needs to be improved, and that forces us to be creative and find how to fix those problems.
The creation of useful games is the way of the future, and there are many approaches we can take to achieve that. One idea: the creation of games that are as much educational as they are entertaining. This medium is one of the easiest and most accessible we've ever had. We don't get injured while playing games, because our body isn't at risk, so we can keep learning. Video games are an easy way to experience thousands of things in a short period of time. It would make perfect sense if video games became part of a new educational system.
Right now, video games are an easy way to study and better understand reality on a physical level; powerful tools for self-development, and that's something we'll have to push.
I invite you to perceive this article more as a unified philosophy of fun rather than a theory. There still is a lot more to say about these seven principles of fun, but the goal was to give you the keys that will allow you the find the rest of the answers on your own. You will, at least, know where to look.
I hope you enjoyed reading; feel free to comment, ask questions, or debate.