Archive for December, 2007

tricks of the eye

Avert Your Eyes
Distraction is key. “That’s the game: getting people to focus attention in the wrong place, though you’re doing it in front of their eyes,” says Dan Simons, a visual cognition and perception expert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Attention is like a spotlight: We notice only what it’s focused on.

Follow the Leader
Because people instinctively look where other people are looking, the magician gazes where he wants you to look, and your eyes follow.

Too Much Information
A steady stream of verbal patter also provides camouflage. People have limited attention: Fill it with fast talk, and they’re less likely to notice other details.

But I Saw It!
People have a tendency to see what they expect to see. “The magician pretends to throw a ball up in the air. People perceive the ball moving up, even though it never left his hand,” explains Gustav Kuhn, a magician and research psychologist at the University of Durham in England. The harder you look, the less likely you are to spot the sleight.


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design language: ikea design

Ikea Design, is design that asks the player to follow a linear set of steps, the ‘challenge’ is to follow the next step in the sequence. While simple, this requires a balance between overly straightforward instructions (…effectively telling the player exactly what to do), and frustration where the player has to guess wildly and gains no satisfaction from mastering the puzzle. Achieving a balance difficult due to age or competence differences in players.

Warren Spector;

“Great game-play comes, I think, from our ability to drop players in to compelling situations, provide clear goals for them, give them a variety of tools with which they can impact their environment and then get out the way… That has to be so much more compelling for players – thrilling even – than simply guessing the canned solution to a puzzle or pressing the a mouse button faster than a computer opponent can react.”

(quoted in The WOW climax, Henry Jenkins)

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verbs first, context later

“Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary Nintendo designer, once explained that making a new Nintendo game involves picking the verbs first and adding context later, once you’re sure you have fun verbs.”

Don’t fall for ‘Form over Function’, get the fun 1st.

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I see you shiver with antici…pation


Dr. Frank-N-Furter
“So come up to the lab
And see what’s on the slab
I see you shiver with antici…pation
But maybe the rain
Isn’t really to blame
So I’ll remove the cause
But not the symptom”



Design should always seek to create a sense of anticipation in the player’s mind. Anticipation of progress, of gain, of reward, of challenge, of fear, of success or of anything that needs to be memorable. Effectively signposting, and selling the possible outcomes, challenges to be overcome and rewards can make them far more powerful and important to the player.

“Our brains come equipped with a biological mechanism that is more aroused when we anticipate a profit than when we get one.”

“Over millions of years of evolution, it was the thrill of anticipation that put our senses in a state of high awareness, bracing us to capture uncertain rewards. Our anticipation circuitry, says Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, acts as a “beacon of incentive” that enables us to pursue rewards that can be earned only with patience and commitment.”

Extend the uncertainty of collection/receipt with a degree of randomness in the specific rewards to heighten their impact on player’s drive to unlock and collect.

Progression through a game is a measure of a player’s mastery of the game. Progression should be structured and built around creating anticipation and then delivering on it. Starting with the underlying fantasy of the game that the game promises to deliver to the player, as well as the specific challenges and rewards.
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