design language: willing suspension of disbelief


Alan Kay, TED 2008

“…what fools these mortals be!”

Puck, A Midsummer Nights Dream Act 3
Shakespeare means that we are easily fooled by almost everything. We go to the theatre in order to be fooled, we are actually looking forward to it. The same with magic shows, illusions and games.

Games are immersive fun experiences, that work most effectively if the player willingly suspends their disbelief in the obvious non realities. If either party; the player or the game, break the tacit agreement that supports the player’s suspension of disbelief, then the whole experience unravels and becomes less satisfactory. Games often break this agreement by being inconsistent with how they deal with aspects of the game that are not ‘in game’, e.g. restart, saving or instructions.

“Suspension of disbelief is an aesthetic theory intended to characterize people’s relationships to art. It was coined by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817. It refers to the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic or impossible. It also refers to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. According to the theory, suspension of disbelief is a quid pro quo: the audience tacitly agrees to provisionally suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment.”


1 Comment »

  1. […] want to suspend disbelief, give them no cause to step outside of the world you have created for […]

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