Archive for February, 2009

predictions are hard

“Predictions are hard, especially when they are about the future”

Yogi Berra

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design language : good hint


Hints can be useful in many situations, and should form the basis of most tutorials.

“There are probably more forms of bad hints. However, there is really only one kind of good hint – and that is the one that in no way interferes with the opportunity for accomplishment – one that helps the other player exactly as much as that player wants to be helped.”

The Well-Played Game, Bernie DeKoven

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are games infantilising you?

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are putting attention span in jeopardy, says Baroness Greenfield;

“Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.”  …

Baroness Greenfield… also warned against “a much more marked preference for the here-and-now, where the immediacy of an experience trumps any regard for the consequences. After all, whenever you play a computer game, you can always just play it again; everything you do is reversible. The emphasis is on the thrill of the moment, the buzz of rescuing the princess in the game. No care is given for the princess herself, for the content or for any long-term significance, because there is none. This type of activity, a disregard for consequence, can be compared with the thrill of compulsive gambling or compulsive eating.

“The sheer compulsion of reliable and almost immediate reward is being linked to similar chemical systems in the brain that may also play a part in drug addiction. So we should not underestimate the ‘pleasure’ of interacting with a screen when we puzzle over why it seems so appealing to young people.”

Greenfield also warned there was a risk of loss of empathy as children read novels less. “Unlike the game to rescue the princess, where the goal is to feel rewarded, the aim of reading a book is, after all, to find out more about the princess herself.”

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is cheese sticky? only time will tell

Change Happens – they keep moving the cheese

Anticipate Change – get ready for the cheese to move

Monitor Change – smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old

Adapt to Change Quickly – the quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese

Change - move with the cheese

Enjoy Change – savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese

Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again and Again – they keep moving the cheese

Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

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design language : careful flattery

94Careful flattery of the player works well as a valid game reward. Focus on making the player feel good, it’s a game, make them feel good and they will play again.

Flattery is the act of giving excessive compliments, generally for the purpose of ingratiating oneself with the subject.

“Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself” Dale Carnegie quote
“The aim of flattery is to soothe and encourage us by assuring us of the truth of an opinion we have already formed about ourselves.” Dame Edith Sitwell quote

Excessive, overly false and repetitive flattery will become tiresome and transparent.

Careful flattery could be called a compliment, which might be ‘better’ than flattery, although risks being too subtle for gamers in the heat of the action, where most activities are very unsubtle.

Compliment an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration: A sincere compliment boosts one’s morale.

Plutarch recognized that flattery, “which blends itself with every emotion, every moment, need and habit, is hard to separate from friendship.”
quoted from “In Praise of Flattery” By Willis Goth Regier

Carefull flattery should be focused on helping the player achieve their goals, which is likely to be to feel good and enjoy themselves.

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innovate to…

Innovate to create user value

Innovate to create cost saving to create value

Innovate for value

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better graphics do not equal innovation

#7. Thou shalt let us play your game with real-life friends

#6. Thou shalt not pad the length of your games
  • -Putting huge stretches of land between objectives
  • -Adding pointless, mandatory fetch quests
#5. Thou shalt not force repetition on the player
  • -Having to replay levels due to limited save points
  • -Force us to watch cutscenes repeatedly
  • -Instant failure quicktime events
#4. Thou shalt make killing fun
  • -Starting us with a bullshit weapon
  • -Filling the game with tiny rodent enemies
  • -Bullets that have no visible effect
  • -Filling the game with hordes of cookie-cutter bad guys.
#3. Thou shalt admit when enough is enough
  • -Escort missions.
  • -CPU-controlled squad teammates
  • -First-person jumping puzzles
  • -World War II games
  • -The grizzled space marine
#2. Thou shalt make sure your game actually works
  • -Porting games after about five minutes of beta testing
  • -Releasing games the console can’t really run
  • -Load times
#1. Better graphics do not equal innovation and/or creativity.

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big numbers


In general, are more influenced by big numbers, regardless of the value. People tend to overestimate differences between small quantities/numbers and underestimate the differences between larger one.

“You would probably never sell out your friend for $5. But 500 cents? Now you’re talking!
Sure, the value is the same, but researchers have found that people are often lured into making decisions by numbers that seem bigger than they really are.”

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5 temptations

temptation #1 choosing status over results
temptation #2 choosing popularity over accountability
temptation #3 choosing certainty over clarity
temptation #4 choosing harmony over conflict
temptation #5 choosing invulnerability over trust

The Five Temptations of a CEO: A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni

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risks in over simplifying the complex world

“The market movements in the eighteen months after September 11, 2001, were far smaller than the ones that we faced in the eighteen months prior – but somehow in the minds of the investors they were more volatile. The discussions in the media of ‘terrorist threats’ magnified the effect of these market movements in people’s heads. This is one of the reasons that journalism may be the greatest plague we face today – as the world becomes more and more complicated and our minds are trained for more and more simplification

from Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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1 for gain, -2 for pain

It is believed that the impact of a frustration or negative experience is double negatively, that of a positive experience.

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always looking for simple solutions?


“It’s now a well-documented that we in the West have a strong cognitive bias to simplistic explanations. And thus simple solutions.”


The geography of thought: how culture colors the way the mind works – Richard Nisbett

• The West is reductionist, the East is holistic
• The East is accepts contradiction, the West must be consistent
• The West focuses on the object, the East observers the context

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the effect of cultural legacy on behaviour and success. E.g. Eastern cultures with a history of rice farming that demands consistent attention tending to be better at maths, than western cultures that have more ‘fire and forget’ crop systems.

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fear doesn’t get you down the mountain

Tom Kelley in The Art of Innovation

Thinking about what you might lose—market share, revenue, a title, your status, your job—makes it nearly impossible to take a leap. That’s why the big new ideas usually come from small companies, or big ones who somehow manage to act small. Fear doesn’t get you down the mountain.

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everyone like stories about people?


“Businesses are full of great human life stories waiting to hit the press. People love reading, hearing or seeing people like themselves in the media. That is why soap operas continue to top the ratings

People have affinity for people, and stories about people that they can relate to.”

Marketing Judo

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clear thinking made visible

“Good design is clear thinking made visible”

Edward Tufte

  • Quantitative thinking comes down to one question: Compared to what?
    Try very hard to show cause and effect.
    Don’t break up evidence by accidents of means of production.
  • The world is multivariant, so the display should be high-dimensional.
    The presentation stands and falls on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content

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11 commandments of leadership

  1. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
  2. Working is not about you…
  3. Results matter, always
  4. Management is 90% thinking and 10% doing
  5. There are no random acts of management
  6. People will make important what you pay attention to
  7. Make BIG jobs
  8. You can only respond to behaviour
  9. You don’t have to respond to everything
  10. Think before you act or speak
  11. Reflect and learn

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