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Mechanics of Magic: Lessons from Game Design


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The web world is agog over game design as the next silver bullet, slapping badges and progress bars over every annoying thing they wish users to do. As users tire of everything looking like a game, "gamification" has come under fire. But why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Game design is to web design what rocket science is to car mechanics, and just like Tang and Velcro, there is plenty in game design we can use in our every day work. Come and hear how mastery, irregular reward schedules and meaningful choices can make your site a pleasure for your users.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor, Design
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Mechanics of Magic: Lessons from Game Design

  1. 1. The Mechanics of Magic 7 lessons from game design
  2. 2. @cwodtke
  3. 3. I do not have New Year’s Resolutions
  4. 4. I have New Year’s projects. One year it was games These are the wise people I learned from Some I interviewed, some I read their books, some I watched their videos, some reviewed this talk…
  5. 5. What is the first game you can remember?
  6. 6. Every project needs a goal that everyone agrees is worth doing. FIND YOUR NORTH STAR
  7. 7. FUN
  8. 8. Go here to watch full talk: Brenda Romero nee Braithwaite at TEDx Phoenix
  9. 9. Conversion is a crap north star DESIGN FOR AN EMOTION
  10. 10. Surprise & delight
  11. 11. AFFECTIONATE compassionate friendly loving open hearted sympathetic tender warm ENGAGED absorbed alert curious engrossed enchanted entranced fascinated interested intrigued involved spellbound stimulated CONFIDENT empowered open proud safe secure EXCITED amazed animated ardent aroused astonished dazzled eager energetic enthusiastic giddy invigorated lively passionate surprised vibrant HOPEFUL expectant encouraged optimistic (c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication Website:     GRATEFUL appreciative moved thankful touched INSPIRED amazed awed wonder JOYFUL amused delighted glad happy jubilant pleased tickled EXHILARATED blissful ecstatic elated enthralled exuberant radiant rapturous thrilled PEACEFUL calm clear headed comfortable centered content equanimous fulfilled mellow quiet relaxed relieved satisfied serene still tranquil trusting REFRESHED enlivened rejuvenated renewed rested restored revived AFFECTIONATE compassionate friendly loving open hearted sympathetic tender warm
  12. 12. PEACE beauty communion ease harmony order
  13. 13. There is no shortage of “organization porn” on the web. We have a deep seated dream of a place of tidy harmony. There is big business in selling peace and order
  14. 14. Frustration
  15. 15. AFRAID apprehensive dread foreboding frightened mistrustful panicked petrified scared suspicious terrified wary worried ANNOYED aggravated dismayed disgruntled displeased exasperated frustrated impatient irritated irked CONFUSED ambivalent baffled bewildered dazed hesitant lost mystified perplexed puzzled torn DISQUIET agitated alarmed discombobulated disconcerted disturbed DISCONNECTED perturbed alienated rattled aloof restless apathetic shocked bored startled cold surprised detached troubled distant turbulent distracted turmoil indifferent uncomfortable numb uneasy removed unnerved uninterested unsettled withdrawn upset EMBARRASSED ashamed chagrined flustered guilty mortified self-conscious YEARNING envious jealous longing nostalgic pining wistful PAIN agony anguished bereaved devastated grief heartbroken hurt lonely miserable regretful remorseful SAD depressed dejected despair despondent disappointed discouraged disheartened forlorn gloomy heavy hearted hopeless melancholy unhappy wretched TENSE anxious cranky distressed distraught edgy fidgety frazzled irritable jittery nervous overwhelmed restless stressed out VULNERABLE fragile guarded helpless insecure leery reserved sensitive shaky (c) 2005 by Center for Nonviolent Communication Website:      AVERSION animosity appalled contempt disgusted dislike hate horrified hostile repulsed FATIGUE beat burnt out depleted exhausted lethargic listless tired weary worn out ANGRY enraged furious incensed indignant irate livid outraged resentful
  16. 16. Should we avoid negative emotions? Can negative emotions be fun?
  17. 17. • More pleasure and excitement in active failure than in success • However: passive experience of failure makes players disengage. • Attaining a goal DECREASES player arousal and interest. Ravaja, Niklas, et al. The Psychophysiology of Video Gaming: Phasic Emotional Responses to Game Events. Digital Games Research Association International Conference 2005. Read it:
  18. 18. Obviously Mr. Right Could Coffee meets bagel play up the anguish of missing a match in a fun way that engages you more deeply?
  19. 19. “People find role playing cheesy, makes them self conscious. The game forces you into uncomfortable situations. You take a situation and a pattern and match them up.. It might be a pattern you avoid because you aren’t good at it. And it creates much more teachable scenarios.” Dan Brown’s Communicating Design Game
  20. 20. Until my players feel _____, I will not ship PICK YOUR NORTHSTAR
  22. 22. Grace (62/ female/ widowed/ Little Rock, AR.) “I like playing my favorite games online, but if I can play with friends, well that’s even better!”    Personal Background: Her husband has passed on. She has two grown kids, both of whom live far away. She misses the kids, but has a fairly large circle of friends that she spends time with.   Technical Proficiency : Limited. Can use her browser and her email. MS Word confuses her, and she doesn’t like using it. Doesn’t know what an OS is. Tends to click yes if the browser prompts her to do anything, and will click wildly until things work. History with games: Plays crossword puzzles daily and saves them. Plays card games, PhotoJam, but is offended by South Park cartoons 2001 Game’s opportunity: If Grace can be convinced to participate in community activities, she will become a loyal user of the site. She needs to be sheltered from the sick and twisted content, however.    
  23. 23. Richard Bartle Drawing: Frank Caron
  24. 24. 4 Key Engagement Styles in Social Gaming Express Explore Compete Collaborate Amy Jo Kim @amyjokim
  25. 25. What if Amazon was a Game? Satisficers Socializers Optimizers Self-discovery
  27. 27. LOOP DE LOOP
  28. 28. This is a core loop for a very simple game. Start with fish eggs, that you grow into fish that you sell to buy more valuable fish eggs
  29. 29. Will Wright on Game Design: full talk:
  30. 30. Build defense and offence Attack Defend
  33. 33. I get knocked down You ain't ever gonna keep me down. But I get up again WHAT IS YOUR CORE LOOP?
  34. 34. MECHANICS Some of the more sleezy gamification gurus use this term as mind-control tricks. But really they are just what makes games tick.
  35. 35. Rules are Mechanics
  36. 36. Just in case you need it
  38. 38. Pinch The pinch is the place where you run out of something. I.e. You run out of lives in the arcade, and you reach in your pocked for a quarter. Or twelve.
  39. 39. But it’s ok because I feel something? SOMETIMES MECHANICS ARE MANIPULATIONS
  40. 40. 6 key principles of persuasion by Robert Cialdini Reciprocity Social Proof Commitment and Consistency Authority Liking Scarcity
  41. 41. Reward me ACHIEVEMENTS
  42. 42. Celebrate microwins! Actions taken successfully create mini-rewards in the form of doobers (stars and slot-machine sounds).
  43. 43. Celebrating
  44. 44. CELBRATING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!
  45. 45. Leaderboards There is a certain satisfaction in kicking a friends bum. However, if you have a place where not much social is happening, be sure to motivate me by making me beat my own high score. Not feel lonely.
  46. 46. Leaderboards are used extensively to motivate behavior
  47. 47. But it can lead to abuse
  48. 48. Amazon handles it by retiring players. Digg got rid of their leaderboards
  50. 50. We treat designer like flip this house: give them wireframes and tell them to make it pretty ITE E B$ W
  51. 51. Concept design by Min Zhou Grace and Glory enemy concept designs by Yusuke Hashimoto. From the upcoming video game Bayonetta.
  52. 52. Learn how to teach
  53. 53. In Bubble Witch Saga, they give you only a couple instructions in the first level
  54. 54. And in the next level they teach you a few more game elemnts, slowly revealing the play.
  55. 55. In Tiny Wings, the first level has your finger light up when you should touch the screen
  56. 56. To play Dance Central, you have to learn the moves
  57. 57. They make the learning into a game too– if you can decode the picture, you can get a diamond and skip the practice
  58. 58. SO YOU THINK YOU ARE USER CENTERED? Playtest like you mean it
  59. 59. Sid Meir, Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong. Full talk
  60. 60. HOMEWORK Play Bastion media/ How do these principles apply? 1.What was the North Star? 2.What Emotion(s) do you feel? 3.Who are the Player Types? 4.What’s the core loop? 5.How did you learn to play? 6. How does the art/music shape the game?
  61. 61. CHRISTINA WODTKE @cwodtke I can’t be bought, but I can be rented. Image form Baston: great game!