Game Mechanics


I feel it's important to note that there's a difference between game design as applied to actual games (video games, computer games) and game mechanics design as applied to non-games (applications, web sites). Modern game design (for those designers that apply methods and procedures instead of doing it holistically) deals with the whole scope of the game experience: the topology of interaction (1D, 2D, 3D, 4D, directions between each dimension, etc.), choices the player has made up to each interaction, core mechanics (verbs describing actions all the down to the button press), on and on.

These are important when crafting entire experiences that are essentially self-contained. These are how you tell interactive stories.

Ribbon Hero is a great example of the state of the art of game mechanics as applied to non-games. We're essentially cherry-picking a few of these ideas to make our applications a little less dull, to increase user engagement, but Ribbon Hero isn't the entirety of Microsoft Word, it's a bit of a game atop Microsoft Word. (If we were building an entire word processor as a game, we'd probably want to consider the whole gamut of design knowledge, of course.)

Still, all of the game mechanics references below build on the assumption that you already know not just what a game is, but also why games are compelling for players. This is why they're ordered chronologically. You could skip to the end, read just the 2010 papers and presentations, but you could end up designing features without knowing why they work and be unable to diagnose them if they fail or invent new ones when your competitors copy you. Don't cheat.


That said, in a two hour workshop, we don't have time to discuss all of these presentations, so the high-level summary about the parts that everyone agrees on are:


Last workshop's brainstorming exercise game up with at least two calendar/time management designs that included achievements. Today, we're going to brainstorm how each of Points, Levels, Quests, Feedback and Inventory can be applied to calendaring.

The scenario is the same:

You have to consider the use cases of entering the data beforehand, and then later being exposed to the data, and where Points, Levels, Quests, Feedback and Inventory come into play.

Selected whiteboard notes

Originals: A Theory of Fun, Putting the Fun in Functional, Mixing Games and Applications 1 and 2, Ribbon Hero, Add Xbox to your UX










GameMechanics (last edited 2010-04-25 12:39:15 by Vitorio Miliano)