Video from Ignite Wellington, and playful design

The Ignite Welly folks have started posting speaker videos from the inaugural night at their on their Youtube channel. This is mine:

In 5 minutes I tried to cover 3 things that I think games often do well that could be of use to the (mostly) web and application focused audience:

  • Teach gradually and playfully - using friendly language and tutorial systems which allow users to experiment and learn as they go.
  • Provide feedback - everything from juicy interactions to long term rewards (like Achievements or Badges) for ongoing activity.
  • Allow exploration and discovery - give users a chance to explore and guide them from point to point without sticking them on rails.

This was 2 things too many. With such a short time frame I think the audience would have been much better served by focus on a single point in some depth. Hopefully this crash course overview at least got people thinking about some new areas they could research and apply to their own work.

A couple of weeks after I did this presentation I saw a few posts floating around and had others forwarded to me regarding applying “game design” to application and web design. The first one that really grabbed my attention was Why Is Every App A Game? The Badgeification Of The Internet and highlighted a problem that I don’t think I talked about enough during the presentation. The useful techniques that designers can look at from games are approaches to users, not applying game mechanics just because you can. Slapping a scoring system in the middle of your userbase is not going to make for a better experience or cause them to stick around longer!

This post, Top 5 Ways to Make Your Site More Fun, is a great example of looking past the intent of game design that I think is most relevant to other designers and instead reaching right for the raw tools we employ. We tend to consider games that have single use or isolated play mechanics that don’t fit into a larger context to be poor games, and that’s what you’d get if you just grabbed one of these ways to make your site more fun and applied it.

I think game design has a lot to share with other fields (and even more to learn!) but as with all things look very closely at how to apply the practices for the benefit of your users, not just the end results that we see in our own field.

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