“Dominant models in IA: space + story” was one of the notes I took while at this year’s Euro IA Summit. I’ll get into space some other time. Concerning story: Basically it strikes me that for a discipline involved with an interactive medium, so often designing is likened to storytelling. I’m not sure this is always the most productive way to approach design, I actually think it is very limiting. If you approach design not as embedding your story in the environment, but as creating an environment wherein users can create their own stories, then I’d say you’re on the right track. An example I tend to use is a game of poker: The design of the game poker was certainly not an act of storytelling, but a play session of poker is experienced as (and can be retold as) a story. Furthermore, the components of the game can be recombined to create different variations of the basic game, each creating different potentials for stories to arise. I’d like to see more designers approach interactive media (digital, physical or whatever) like this: Don’t tell a story to your user, enable them to create their own.1 Realize users will want to recombine your stuff with other stuff you might not know about (the notion of seamful design comes into play here). When you’ve done a proper job, you’ll find them retelling those stories to others, which I would say is the biggest compliment you can get.
1. Or to put this in Marc LeBlanc’s terms: Don’t embed narrative, let it emerge through play.
3 thoughts on “Play, story and recombination”
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