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Rahul Vohra (Founder/CEO, Superhuman) - How Game Design Can Inform Product Design

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The Email Game – The Key to Happy Customers
At Superhuman, they make products like they are games.

Most companies worry about what users want or need. But nobody needs a game to exist; there are no requirements. At Superhuman, they don’t worry about what users want or what they need; they obsess over how people feel. They practice an altogether different kind of product development.

Rahul has been designing games since he was child. He started by creating paper mazes, spent his school years programming video games, and worked professionally as a game designer on RuneScape — the world’s largest free roleplaying game.

You will learn: how to make products that are delightful, amazing, and magical — and which are fundamentally like games.

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Rahul Vohra (Founder/CEO, Superhuman) - How Game Design Can Inform Product Design

  1. 1. Superhuman
  2. 2. The Product-Market Fit Engine
  3. 3. Background
  4. 4. Game Design ≠ Gamification
  5. 5. Percentage of time spent drawing 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% No reward Expected reward Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children's intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the "overjustification" hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28(1), 129-137.
  6. 6. Self-determination Theory Intrinsic Motivation Inherent drive I do it for its own sake Extrinsic Motivation Integrated drive Because this is who I am Identified drive Because it matters to me Introjected drive Because I said I would External drive Because you reward me Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York: Plenum.
  7. 7. What is a game?
  8. 8. What is a game? • A game is something you play • A toy is something you play with • A toy is an object you play with • A good toy is an object that is fun to play with • Fun is pleasant surprise
  9. 9. How do you make a good game? 1. Emotion 2. Theme 3. Surprise 4. Curiosity 5. Resonance 6. Inspiration 7. Toys 8. Flow 9. Needs 10. Judgement 11. Goals 12. Skills 13. Chance 14. Reward 15. Character 16. Physical Interface 17. Virtual Interface 18. Avatar 19. Expression 20. Pleasure 21. Interest curves 22. The Hero’s Journey
  10. 10. Emotion
  11. 11. Theme
  12. 12. Theme 1. Story 2. Aesthetics 3. Mechanics 4. Technology
  13. 13. Theme: Mechanics 100 ms macOS 65 ms Superhuman
  14. 14. Theme 4. Technology
  15. 15. Surprise
  16. 16. Curiosity
  17. 17. Resonance
  18. 18. fantasy ; truth
  19. 19. Love is more important than life, and stronger than death.
  20. 20. I am what I do.
  21. 21. I deserve to succeed.
  22. 22. If I work hard enough, I can achieve anything.
  23. 23. Inspiration
  24. 24. Inspiration
  25. 25. Toy
  26. 26. Never
  27. 27. Flow
  28. 28. What is flow? 1. Intense and focused concentration on the present 2. Merging of action and awareness 3. Loss of reflective self-consciousness 4. Sense of personal control 5. Distortion of temporal experience 6. Activity becomes intrinsically motivating Nakamura, J.; Csikszentmihályi, M. (20 December 2001). "Flow Theory and Research". In C. R. Snyder Erik Wright, and Shane J. Lopez (ed.). Handbook of Positive Psychology. Oxford University Press. pp. 195–206. ISBN 978-0-19-803094-2.
  29. 29. Conditions for flow 1. Knowing what to do next 2. Knowing how to do it 3. Freedom from distractions 4. Clear and immediate feedback 5. High perceived challenges and high perceived skills Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A. (ed.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
  30. 30. FlowAnxiety Arousal ControlWorry RelaxationApathy Boredom Skill HighLow ChallengeHighLow
  31. 31. Conditions for flow 1. Knowing what to do next Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A. (ed.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
  32. 32. Conditions for flow 2. Knowing how to do it Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A. (ed.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
  33. 33. Conditions for flow 3. Freedom from distractions Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A. (ed.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
  34. 34. Conditions for flow 4. Clear and immediate feedback Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A. (ed.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
  35. 35. Conditions for flow 5. High perceived challenges and high perceived skills Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), "Flow", in Elliot, A. (ed.), Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
  36. 36. FlowAnxiety Arousal ControlWorry RelaxationApathy Boredom Skill HighLow ChallengeHighLow
  37. 37. FlowAnxiety Arousal ControlWorry RelaxationApathy Boredom Skill HighLow ChallengeHighLow
  38. 38. FlowAnxiety Arousal ControlWorry RelaxationApathy Boredom Skill HighLow ChallengeHighLow
  39. 39. FlowAnxiety Arousal ControlWorry RelaxationApathy Boredom Skill HighLow ChallengeHighLow
  40. 40. Needs
  41. 41. Self-Esteem Achievement • Mastery Respect • Recognition Belonging Friendship • Family • Physical intimacy Safety Security • Stability Physiological Food • Water • Shelter • Sleep • Warmth Self- Actualization Creativity • Purpose • Meaning
  42. 42. Self-Esteem Achievement • Mastery Respect • Recognition Belonging Friendship • Family • Physical intimacy Safety Security • Stability Physiological Food • Water • Shelter • Sleep • Warmth Self- Actualization Creativity • Purpose • Meaning
  43. 43. Self-Esteem Achievement • Mastery Respect • Recognition Belonging Friendship • Family • Physical intimacy Safety Security • Stability Physiological Food • Water • Shelter • Sleep • Warmth Self- Actualization Creativity • Purpose • Meaning
  44. 44. Judgement
  45. 45. What judgement do we crave? 1. Fair 2. Useful 3. Motivating
  46. 46. Goals
  47. 47. What are good goals? 1. Concrete 2. Achievable 3. Reinforced 4. Rewarding
  48. 48. What are good goals? 1. Concrete
  49. 49. What are good goals? 2. Achievable
  50. 50. What are good goals? 3. Reinforced
  51. 51. What are good goals? 4. Rewarding
  52. 52. Skill
  53. 53. Types of Skill 1. Physical [Dexterity, Coordination] 2. Mental [Memory, Decision Making] 3. Social [Cooperation, Competition]
  54. 54. Skills required by Superhuman 1. Triage [Mental] 2. Shortcuts [Mental, Physical] 3. Typing [Physical] 4. Focus [Mental] 5. Brevity [Mental, Social] 6. Empathy [Social] 7. Persuasion [Social] 8. …
  55. 55. Chance
  56. 56. Reward
  57. 57. Reward 1. Praise 2. Points 3. Spectacle 4. Expression 5. Powers 6. Status 7. Completion
  58. 58. Character
  59. 59. rahul@superhuman.com rahul@superhuman.com rahul@superhuman.com rahul@superhuman.com rahul@superhuman.com rahul@superhuman.com Character
  60. 60. Physical Interface
  61. 61. Virtual Interface
  62. 62. Avatar
  63. 63. The Rules of Focus 1. There should always be precisely one focus 2. It should always be obvious where your focus is 3. You should be able to move your focus with the arrow keys 4. You should be able to move your focus anywhere 5. You should never be able to lose your focus
  64. 64. Expression
  65. 65. Pleasure
  66. 66. Types of Pleasure 1. Sensation 2. Fantasy 3. Narrative 4. Challenge 5. Fellowship 6. Discovery 7. Expression 8. Submission "MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research". Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek.
  67. 67. Other Types of Pleasure 1. Anticipation 2. Completion 3. Schadenfreude 4. Gifting 5. Humor 6. Possibility 7. Naches 8. Thrill 9. Fiero 10.Wonder
  68. 68. Interest Curves
  69. 69. Interest Curves Time Interest Hook Rising Interest Grand Finale
  70. 70. The Hero’s Journey
  71. 71. The Hero’s Journey The Ordinary World (e.g. running a startup) The Special World (e.g. the pits of my inbox) 1. Ordinary World 2. Call to Adventure 3. Refusal of the Call 4. Meeting the Mentor 5. Crossing the Threshold 6. Tests, Allies, Enemies 7. Approach 8. The Ordeal 9. The Reward 10. The Road Back 11. The Resurrection 12. Return with Elixir
  72. 72. How do you make a good game? 1. Emotion 2. Theme 3. Surprise 4. Curiosity 5. Resonance 6. Inspiration 7. Toys 8. Flow 9. Needs 10. Judgement 11. Goals 12. Skills 13. Chance 14. Reward 15. Character 16. Physical Interface 17. Virtual Interface 18. Avatar 19. Expression 20. Pleasure 21. Interest curves 22. The Hero’s Journey
  73. 73. rahul@superhuman.com @rahulvohra

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