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Designing for Fun

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Designing for Fun

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Sarah Allen, Mightyverse @mightyverse, AltConf, June 2015
Making your app fun to use requires more than sprinkling a little gamification on top. It requires thoughtful imagination and experimentation. In this talk, I highlight some expert perspectives on theories of play and behavioral psychology, and and how we can apply these ideas in mobile app design. I also share prototyping techniques and how to validate whether a design will actually be fun.

Sarah Allen, Mightyverse @mightyverse, AltConf, June 2015
Making your app fun to use requires more than sprinkling a little gamification on top. It requires thoughtful imagination and experimentation. In this talk, I highlight some expert perspectives on theories of play and behavioral psychology, and and how we can apply these ideas in mobile app design. I also share prototyping techniques and how to validate whether a design will actually be fun.

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Designing for Fun

  1. 1. Designing for Fun Sarah Allen @mightyverse
  2. 2. Thank you John! @djembe
  3. 3. Meaning Autonomy Mastery Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
  4. 4. Meaning Connect to personal goals and passions Autonomy Mastery Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
  5. 5. Social Mission Almost 50% of the world’s languages are endangered One goes extinct every 2-3 weeks A global, crowdsourced living language community can make documenting an endangered language easy and accessible to all.
  6. 6. What is your epic win?
  7. 7. Meaning Connect to personal goals and passions Autonomy Freedom: the ability to curiously explore opportunity Mastery Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
  8. 8. – Frank Smith “We are all capable of huge and unsuspected learning accomplishments without effort.”
  9. 9. Designing Software
  10. 10. Meaning Connect to personal goals and passions Autonomy Freedom: the ability to curiously explore opportunity Mastery Goal + rules create interesting challenges Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
  11. 11. – Raph Koster “Fun is just another word for learning”
  12. 12. – Raph Koster “Fun is just another word for learning under optimal conditions.”
  13. 13. Relaxed Alertness Moderate to High Challenge Low Threat Sense of Well-being Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain by Renate Nummela Caine, Geoffrey Caine
  14. 14. Relaxed Alertness Allows people to access what they already know Think Creatively Tolerate Ambiguity Willingness to Delay Gratification Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain by Renate Nummela Caine, Geoffrey Caine
  15. 15. – Stephanie Morgan Compulsion Loop
  16. 16. Kill Monsters Win Gold Buy Stuff – Stephanie Morgan
  17. 17. Language Exchange Social Game Language learning process should be reflective of the interaction they are seeking: social, engaging, fun Mightyverse Database Web App Juan Bill Xian View Record Request
  18. 18. Content Creation Feedback Loop Phrase Contributors Mightyverse Database
  19. 19. Phrase Contributors Mightyverse Database More Search Results Content Creation Feedback Loop Phrase videos create phrase pages
  20. 20. Phrase Contributors Mightyverse Database More Search Results Web App Content Creation Feedback Loop Phrase pages drive traffic
  21. 21. Phrase Contributors Mightyverse Database More Search Results Web App Content Creation Feedback Loop Phrase pages drive traffic Traffic drives App downloads
  22. 22. Phrase Contributors Mightyverse Database More Search Results Web App Content Creation Feedback Loop Phrase pages drive traffic People can share or request help from friends
  23. 23. Phrase Contributors Mightyverse Database More Search Results Web App Content Creation Feedback Loop Phrase pages drive traffic
  24. 24. Creating a Fun Mobile App
  25. 25. Process Not Features Create a paper prototype. Play test and iterate.
  26. 26. – Matt Leacock “Shut up and sit in the corner and watch. See if people who play your game are having fun and playing the way you expect, and are able to learn the rules easily.”
  27. 27. Playing with Paper keep playing till it is consistently fun always be learning prepare for the unexpected give yourself space to imagine new things
  28. 28. Making the Mobile App
  29. 29. Build small things.
  30. 30. Test Before You Are Ready
  31. 31. The Play Test is a Game
  32. 32. Rules for Play Testing Shut up and Watch Take Notes Take Photos Resist providing answers. Ask questions.
  33. 33. Questions to Ask What do you think this app is for? What did you expect to happen? Did you have fun? What part of it was fun? Did you learn anything?
  34. 34. Design in Collaboration with Your Users feedback@mightyverse.com

Editor's Notes

  • CC0: RyanMcGuire http://pixabay.com/en/cats-jump-play-playful-feline-558077/
  • On nights and weekend, I often find myself looking at this… Most of this talk is about how to design fun experiences, but the title has a double meaning — I’ll be talking about an app I’m working on “for fun” (not for “work”)
  • thanks John!
  • and a whole lot of people on our team who make it happen. The thing about doing an app outside of your day job, is we work hard to make sure we’re all aligned and are motivated and having fun, since when it stops being fun, we’ll stop playing.
  • We’re building Mightyverse, a global community of people sharing language and culture
  • At it’s heart Mightyverse is a collection of short phrase videos of people who have recorded a phrase in their native language, that is cross-translated into other languages. We have collected 10s of 1000s of short phrase videos for learning language and we’re building a mobile app to crowdsource recordings from native speakers, while also allowing people to learn new languages.
  • For the first half of this talk, I’ll focus on theories of play and game design — I like how Sebastian Deterding categories of meaning, autonomy & master. For each, I’ll talk about some theory and give examples from my own work.
    Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
    http://blog.mightyverse.com/2014/03/
  • research has identified the chemical dopamine affects learning and memory — Doing something rewarding increases dopamine (Eric Marr’s TEDx talk )


    Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
    http://blog.mightyverse.com/2014/03/
  • Jane McGonigal has an amazing TED talk where she talks about “the EPIC Win” an extraordinary outcome that you didn’t believe was even possible until you achieved it — almost beyond your threshold of imagination, something that teaches you what you’re truly capable of. “Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible, and that it’s always worth trying, and trying now.”

    “Gaming can make a better world”
  • We have a model where endangered languages will always be free. ..to have the big languages fund the little languages to support the valuable diversity of culture on our planet.

    Almost 50% of the world’s languages are at risk. The people who decide which languages we keep are three years old. When we as adults show we value a language, the kids learn it. We believe Mightyverse can help demonstrate the value of language diversity.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/numbers/how-many-languages-are-endangered-195/
  • There are over 6000 languages in the world… the majority of them are spoken by a tiny fraction of the population, and almost 80% of us, speak only 83 languages

    http://www.ultrasaurus.com/2009/02/who-cares-if-languages-become-extinct/
  • Play is voluntary
    Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
    http://blog.mightyverse.com/2014/03/
  • Frank Smith, a leading authority on linguistics and cognitive psychology, reports that: Learning is the brain’s primary function, its constant concern, and we become restless and frustrated if there is no learning to be done. We are all capable of huge and unsuspected learning accomplishments without effort (Insult to Intelligence: The Bureaucratic Invasion of Our Classrooms)
  • I believe that software design is really teaching… we want to make it so people can effortlessly learn how to use a piece of software…
  • This is the first dialog box I ever designed… the little dotted link is a pre-web hyperlink - a little bit of learning gives you power. Easy to learn and remember since it is related visually to a real-world paper form.
  • sometimes it is worth teaching someone something, to give them a powerful new tool. It seems like this was successful since we used the same pattern in After Effects, and it has persisted over 20 years later, likely having survived many usability tests.
  • I wondered… After Effects has a lot of complex UI, which is pretty overwhelming at first glance. I asked a colleague of mine who has been a user of After Effects since 1.0: is it fun to use?

    “I love it. Anything is possible when i use it...I can dream up something and then make it real.
    It keeps improving and with each improvement i'm able to communicate my ideas a little faster, a little more clearly…” — Paul Lundahl

    screen shot composite from: https://florianvo.wordpress.com/
  • Overwhelming assumption at that time for mutliplayer games or web video conferencing was that it would start with a login screen. We challenged that assumptions by allowing people to interact without first providing name + password. We can learn from observing real people & how they interact (real-world)

    People already know how to interact with each other
    Don’t make people make decisions until they have to, or you risk that they will make the decision to leave your app!
  • Getting Gamification Right by Sebastian Deterding
    http://blog.mightyverse.com/2014/03/
  • Mammals play to learn adult skills…

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/6453295167/
  • what are those optimal conditions?
  • Stress actually inhibits learning. The optimal state of mind for learning is “relaxed alertness” …
  • optimal state of mind for learning is “relaxed alertness”
  • The fact that these tiger cubs are engaged in play that makes this activity safe. They have decided to keep their paws soft with claws in… they have set boundaries that make this activity fun and ideal for learning.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/6831507351/
  • In early 1900s, Lev Vygotsky studied imaginative play in children & observed that children will subordinate their own wants to the greater pleasure of following the rules. (Vygotsky, Mind in Society)

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/juhansonin/8600732599
  • “the essential attribute of play is a rule that has become a desire” – Vygotsky, Mind in Society
    People will do crazy, weird things, if you make it fun.. if you manage to make it a game..

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/6054960008/
  • Stephanie Morgan Creative Mornings talk “Gamification Sucks”
  • computer games stimulate the brain’s reward system to produce dopamine — in addition to making us feel good, this chemical seems to be the physical basis for learning

    Research has shown that the introduction of chance into any reward system increases dopamine production.

    We love uncertainty…Uncertainty is fun
  • We still believe in this idea of a language exchange, but we know more about our users, we know what they are looking for and have an idea of what we want to make for them.
  • We also know we want to build something that will expand our reach through viral, social techniques. We know people learn socially, and that there exists a specific social network of language experts & what we call cultural ambassadors who want to share their language. We’ve found that people love to share their own language with others, especially the ex-pats, people living in a place where they don’t speak their mother tongue and its easy to connect with them on the global internet.
  • virtuous cycle where the database grows as people play the game, building this giant resource of human-spoken language
  • virtuous cycle where the database grows as people play the game, building this giant resource of human-spoken language
  • virtuous cycle where the database grows as people play the game, building this giant resource of human-spoken language
  • You want to build the software… develop the hypothesis, test the hypothesis…
  • We intentionally designed without a point system… but we wanted to make sure it was intrinsically fun, before we layered on points and achievements
  • all of us are not in the target audience, but Iku is always seeking to improve her english, and I’ve taken some Japanese classes, so we figured we were good for a first test
  • Our goal to get people to have fun actually speaking the language they are learning
  • Cooperation and Engagement: What can board games teach us? by Matt Leacock

    Be careful who you pick to play test your game — not just your brother, your wife or husband, your kid, unless they are in your target audience.
  • 3 decks, written on index cards with 200 phrases in English, Spanish & Japanese
    -> Games are more fun when people want to play… game state, suspension of disbelief, the rules create this alternate reality within which you can have fun
  • Games are best played in the living room or around a kitchen table. Play test with your friends. You want your first play tests to be with people who will still play your game again, even if the first experience is frustrating or boring. Your friends will always play a game with you. Of course, they need to be part of your target audience. If you don’t have any friends who are part of your target audience, go out and meet people in your target audience and make friends with them.

    So… how do we know it’s fun? Here’s a photo from our third play-test.
  • This kid is totally checked out. He’s regretting coming over today. Not fun.
  • This kid is also bored. He can’t believe his mom is making them read the rules aloud.
  • Pro Tip: If you have trouble fitting your game rules on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, don’t even test them, they are too long.
  • Even if your play test doesn’t seem to be working at first, keep at it. If you are lucky you will see moments like this. After a rough start, these folks are having fun. You want to notice what is happening at these moments and adjust your design to replicate and amplify this part of the experience.
  • Another great way to find people in your target audience is a crowd-funding campaign. If people will pay for something that doesn’t yet exist, then they probably want it. We knew we needed to do a lot more play testing, so we decided to commit to printing…. , firmly on the path of learning about our future customers and validating our theories about how to make language learning fun

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIrp8xQscJI
  • Shigeru Miyamoto, famed Nintendo game designer who created Super Mario and the Wii, is known for designing for the expression on someone’s face when they play the game — they should smile and be happy, not frustrated. With the Wii, he designs for everyone in the room, not just the game player.
  • This is what fun looks like.
  • Our goal is to get people to have fun learning the language. The card game succeeds in that at a small scale.
  • Now that we have developed our own model of language learning and have evidence that it is fun, we can scale our efforts by designing a mobile app — in many ways it will be completely different, but we can apply those core principles that we have validates.
  • We first built a very small app that only did phrase recordings…
  • and we created a collaborative activity… we found people that actually seemed to have fun recording phrases. We noticed that some people got their friends involved… and we designed around the parts of the experience that seemed most fun and engaging.
  • It is hard to look at any app that I’ve developed without only seeing the errors, but it is SO important to start engaging people in the experience…
  • One way to look at it is that the play-test itself is a game.

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