Once a Persian poet said: ”Our mission is not to fathom the secret of the Rose. Our mission is perhaps To float in the beauty of the rose". Maybe that’s true in literature, but it's not true in gamification. Please don’t choose between this (to enjoy the game) or that (to analyze the mechanics of a game). Pick both! You must play games, love them, and at the same time, examine them. It’s not an impossible task. I want to deliver you some ways to do that.
Play board games to enjoy them and learn from the way they make emotions. They are usually easy to play, and when you play them, you can directly connect to the designer’s mind. Board games are not too complicated to miss small details and not too simple to be able to design a good one. And they have one essential aspect: you play them with real people. They will jump after the victory. They may cry, and you'll see real uncensored emotions. You can easily see which of the four phases of a game attracts your playmates.
The most important practice is to understand everything, every small detail of the game. For example, what are the mechanics of the game you are playing? What is the reaction of players to the mechanics? How many times do players want to play the game after the first experience? And so on. To find more information, you have to play games with different people and at different times. Diversity is the key.
It’s very natural that you prefer some game genres over the others. For example, I do like games with swords not guns. But if you play the games that you don’t like you will be able to understand more about those games and how they make some players love them. There is an old saying “we don’t have good games and bad games we have good or bad playmates.” Keep in mind that your playmates are sometimes more important than the mechanics. Play terrible games with good playmates and try to add some original rules. Then, play engaging games with bad playmates. You'll find out that the playmates have a crucial effect on the players' experience.