This Saturday I’ll be jumping on a plane to San Francisco. As mentioned earlier, I’ll be attending the Game Developers Conference. I have a session at the GDC Mobile sub-conference elegantly titled “Designing a Casual Social Gaming Experience for Generation C”. Read more about my session on the conference site. It’ll basically be 1/3 crash course on the social web, 1/3 rant on mobile gaming and 1/3 talk about enabling creative expression through games. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ll be in SF the full week (flying back the next weekend) so if you happen to be around, and feel like hanging out, do drop me a line. (Your best bet is an email to “kars” at this domain or d-ing me on Twitter.)
Finally, if that isn’t enough self-promotion for one post, (I’m risking a mass unsubscribe here) I was interviewed a second time for the Playyoo blog. Head over there for some talk about the Game Creator—a tool I designed for them that allows people to customise classic games and publish them to mobile:
“And then there are the games that are entirely personal. They make no sense to you or me, only to the person who created it and their friends. For example, I saw one variation of Lunar Lander where you need to land a crab on someone’s, let’s say Debbie’s, head. Now, I have no idea who Debbie is, but I can imagine Debbie is a friend or sister of the game’s creator. And it must have been a lot of fun for them to include the picture, and then have an easy way to distribute it to their friends.”
“Pressing the button makes the kodo move in the direction it is facing. If a Kodo is left standing still for a short while, it will automatically rotate to a new direction. This allows many players to play simultaneously on a single phone.”
“The 4 Fun Keys create games’ four most important emotions: 1. Hard Fun: Fiero — in the moment personal triumph over adversity 2. Easy Fun: Curiosity 3. Serious Fun: Relaxation and excitement 4. People Fun: Amusement”
A guy gets his laptop confiscated by Danish police: ‘We traced the transaction back to the wireless network in this apartment.’ ‘But we have an open wireless connection. It’s unsecured.’ ‘The internet doesn’t work that way.’ ‘What? Wait. What?’
“How is life offline? Logout and do stuff in the real world for once. Tell us about it. Repeats on the first friday each month, or whenever you feel like it.” Wonderful idea. I’ve been doing this for a while now every other weekend or so.
1st in a 4‑part series of reviews by Saffer of a book I will have to read. The descriptions of how practitioners frame problems and their own practice feel very familiar. I myself seem to be struggling with at least 2 frames: interaction and game design.
I was too lazy to listen to this interview with Thackara earlier but honestly it’s just 10 mins and well worth it. “Designers feel a weight of responsibility becasue they suffer from delusions of grandeur…” Via Alexandra and Jeff Howard.
A site archiving lots and lots of documentation from Atari’s history. Recent additions include a 60 page memo on Centipede. Wonderful, wonderful stuff well worth a look for interaction designers
“You are a deer. So are the other players. You meet each other in an endless forest on the internet. The setting is idyllic, the atmosphere peaceful. You communicate with one another through sounds and body language.”
Webb might not see himself as a designer but this is required viewing/reading for designers as far as I’m concerned. Lots of goodness here but I’ll pick 1 thing: The motivations flowchart are interesting and remind me of the skill chains from game design.
Tom Armitage shares his side of the story about Snap (“Syndicated Next Action Pattern”) for which he built a prototype application called Dentrassi: “A simple, hacky approach that exists beats any amount of RFC-drafting and hypothesising.”
“What happens when inventive people hack and play with limited technological ingredients to make best with what they have?” My friend Joshua is speaking at ETech on his experiences working in Cuba. If you’re attending, check him out.
My friend Jane has published a whitepaper on “[w]hy exchanging (immaterial) gifts will enhance productivity, innovation, and loyalty in organizations”. Guaranteed to be good reading.
A book by the Adaptive Path people. Looking forward to this: “The true success of experience design isn’t how well it works when everything is operating as planned, but how well it works when things start going wrong.”
The languages you’ve mastered shape your thinking. Nouns, verbs, adjectives…if you think of your day-to-day interactions on the web it’s clear the language you’re using is (very) limited. Does that limit your range of thoughts, and the things you’re able to express? Certainly, I’d say.
‘Cerveny is interested in harnessing the computational power of platforms like Playstation2 to create simulations with basic rule-sets that allow complexities to emerge, forming patterns of behaviour and interaction that people instinctively parse. He believes that this essential human ability to find patterns in complex systems remains untapped by current “click on the smiley face to buy our product” interfaces. “There is a certain algorithmic lightness to a basic ruleset, like that of the game Go,” he argues. “Especially as it replaces a top-down specification for human-computer interactions.“ ‘
That was in 2001. Game-like interactions have the potential for expanding your thinking. Stamen—where I’m told Cerveny is spending part of his time—is doing this with datasets.
Recently, I’ve been asked by several people to come up with concrete examples for my “playful” shtick. I’m worried that people expect stuff that makes a typical UI more playful. Like a sauce. That’s never been my intention.
The examples I’m considering (which I intend to describe as patterns) are of a more structural kind. When I point to emergent behaviour in games, I’m not kidding—the idea here is to allow for surprising results. Results that you as a designer have not foreseen. Space to play. That’s what sets the typical web interaction apart from something like Digg Labs.
“Play is free movement within a more rigid structure”. There is (almost) no free movement in your typical web app. That’s why I would not call it playful. These apps are designed to fit predefined user scenarios and evaluated based on how well they support them. No surprise they turn out boring in stead of fun.
However: Not every web app has to be playful, because not every web app is trying to teach you something.
In DOET Norman writes on p.124:
“What are not everyday activities? Those with wide and deep structures, the ones that require considerable conscious planning and thought, deliberate trial and error: trying first this approach, then that—backtracking. Unusual tasks include […] intellectual games: bridge, chess, poker, crossword puzzles, and so on.“1
So that’s why I believe much of the foundations of human-centered design are not applicable to playful experiences—the teachings of Norman are aimed at everyday activities. The activities that are not aimed at making you smarter, at giving you new insights.
On the web (and in computing in general) we’ve moved beyond utility. If we keep designing stuff using methods derived from Donald Norman’s2 (and other’s) work, we’ll never get to playful experiences.
Norman has a blind spot for digital games, although he does include a NES as an example in his book. About this he admits he made “a few attempts to master the game” (p.138). [↩]
“The Superest is a continually running game of My Team, Your Team. The rules are simple: Player 1 draws a character with a power. Player 2 then draws a character whose power cancels the power of that previous character. Repeat.” Fun.
“In the coming decade, many businesses will achieve their greatest breakthroughs by playing games—specifically, alternate reality games, or ARGs.” Bold clame. The article this is part of seems chockfull of such mildly wacky but interesting ideas. Via Zb
“I find Skate exciting because it’s a prime example of a game that understands Generation C; it allows players to share game-information outside the game — and in a manner that is so much more easily referenced, due to it having a permanent link […].”
“Ludic fallacy is a term coined by the philosopher of knowledge Nassim Taleb […] summarized as “the misuse of games to model real-life situations”. Taleb characterizes the fallacy as mistaking the map (model) for the reality[…].”