The conference From Business to Buttons 2008 aimed to bring together the worlds of business and interaction design. I was there to share my thoughts on the applicability of game design concepts to interaction design. You’ll find my slides and a summary of my argument below.
I really enjoyed attending this conference. I met a bunch of new and interesting people and got to hang out with some ‘old’ friends. Many thanks to InUse for inviting me.
The topic is pretty broad so I decided to narrow things down to a class of product that is other-than-everyday — meaning both wide and deep in scope. Using Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things as a starting point, I wanted to show that these products require a high level of explorability that is remarkably similar to play. After briefly examining the phenomenon of play itself I moved on to show applications of this understanding to two types of product: customizable & personalizable ones, and adaptive ones.
For the former, I discussed how game design frameworks such as MDA can help with sculpting the parameter space, using ‘experience’ as the starting point. I also looked at how games support players in sharing stories and speculated about ways this can be translated to both digital and physical products.
For the latter — adaptive products — I focussed on the ways in which they induce flow and how they can recommend stuff to people. With adaptation, designers need to formulate rules. This can be done using techniques from game design, such as Daniel Cook’s skill chains. Successful rules-based design can only happen in an iterative environment using lots of sketching.
The presentation was framed by a slightly philosophical look at how certain games subliminally activate cognitive processes and could thus be used to allow for new insights. I used Breakout and Portal as examples of this. I am convinced there is an emerging field of playful products that interaction designers should get involved with.
Sources referenced in this presentation:1
- Pilgrim in the Microworld (PDF) by David Sudnow
- The Core of Fun by Raph Koster
- The Art of Interactive Design by Chris Crawford
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman
- Designing for Interaction by Dan Saffer
- Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
- Man, Play and Games by Roger Caillois
- A Theory of Play and Fantasy by Gregory Bateson
- The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith
- Rules of Play by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
- The Life of Products by Schulze & Webb
- MDA (PDF) by Robin Hunicke and Robert Zubek
- The Conversation Gets Interesting by Stephen P. Anderson
- The Chemistry of Game Design by Daniel Cook
- Waterfall Bad, Washing Machine Good by Leisa Reichelt
- Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton
- How Can A Game Be Subversive? by Borut Pfeifer
As usual, many thanks to all the Flickr photographers who’ve shared their images under a CC license. I’ve linked to the originals from the slides. Any image not linked to is probably mine.
- Most of these are offline books or papers, those that aren’t have been hyperlinked to their source. [↩]