I’ve been trying to regularly post some thoughts on the topic of playful IA here. Previously I blogged about how games could be a useful frame for thinking about complex algorithmic architectures. Last week I posted some thoughts on the application of game mechanics in web apps. There, Rahul was kind enough to point me to the fascinating blog of
‘Danc’ , titled Lost Garden, where there is one post in particular that resonates with my own pre-occupations lately.
In ‘Short thoughts on games and interaction design’ (which honestly isn’t that short)
Danc looks at some of the ways game design techniques can be applied to the interaction design of web apps. In summary, according to Danc game design techniques allow you to:
- Create an engaging experience that goes beyond simply completing a task efficiently.
- Support free and deep exploration and introduce and teach new interactions that violate conventions.
Some things you shouldn’t borrow from games without giving it a lot of thought are:
- Spatial metaphors
- Visual themes
These are some of the things most people think of first as characteristic of games but really, they are only surface, superficial, not determinant of the actual interactivity of the system.
I think one of the greatest arguments for a deeper understanding of games by interaction designers, information architects and other user experience specialists is that they are the medium that is all about the aesthetics of interactivity. It is true that they have no utilitarian character, they aim to create a pleasurable experience through systems of risks and rewards, restraints and freedoms, nested feedback loops and on and on. As a UX practitioner, it can never hurt to have a deep appreciation of the aesthetics of the medium you work in daily (beyond simply supporting user goals, or selling product, or whatever).