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UX is Game Theory

November 9, 2010

in design,innovate,inspiration

Daily product discussions heard around every experience design table; balancing motivations and behavior against the business objectives, reading system and data structure to better understand the needs that drive desired results, dissecting user tasks to make them easier and more satisfying to accomplish, building authentic conversations that reduce the barriers built by the old ranks of business. This is the rather complicated business of design, a business that still seems to be missing key players (I am looking at you CFO, CTO, CEO, COO. Innovation needs you.). Neutral, common ground is needed. Enter the undeniable link between user experience and game design theory and Jesse Schell. His now infamous Dice 2010 presentation, unwittingly launched him into ‘Pole Position’ as one of the best business and user experience thinkers there is.

Schell published a book in 2008, ‘The Art of Game Design’, but he is also a professor at Carnegie Mellon and a former Disney Imagineer. In the book he frames the craft of game design through ‘lenses’ in which to see the many facets that make for successful, engaging game experiences.  This is one of the best product/service/application experience books out there, without trying to be.

Here are a few of my favorite ‘lenses’ that any team can easily mix into their project process:

The more iterations the better the game. (#7)
Prototype. Test. Toss. Repeat until awesome.

The game is made for a player. (Know who they really are.) (#8)
My advice here is to forget the word ‘demographic’ that only describes the surface of a person.  Instead, focus on the psychographics, who a person is inside; their beliefs, desires and values.

Indirect control is much better than absolute freedom. (#16)
It’s the illusion of freedom that people really need/want. Think about it; which is better MySpace or Facebook?

Games are played with other players. (#21 and 22)
Self-expression is great but not in a vacuum. Sharing, co-creation contains much of the intrinsic enjoyment across every aspect of life; it’s funny, interesting, outrageous (omfg!).

I could have mentioned about 20 more of my favorites, but instead I’ll just say thanks, Jesse. Your book is incredible.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sina Mossayeb November 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

brilliant post sara. concise and leaves me wanting for more (next stop: amazon). on an entirely unrelated note, and perhaps a more self-interested one, any way you can add a “share this” icon to your blog posts (i wanna tweet your blogs like crazy)

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