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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". 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".

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