building a princess saving app

Daniel Cook:

Why do games have such a radically different learning curve than advanced applications? It turns out that games are carefully tuned machines that hack into human beings' most fundamental learning processes. Games are exercises in applied psychology at a level far more nuanced than your typical application. Implicit in this description of interactivity is the fact that users change. More importantly, the feedback loops we, as designers, build into our games, directly change the user's mind... The person that starts using a game is not the same person that finishes the game. Games and the scaffold of skills atoms describes in minute detail how and what change occurs. This is a pretty big philosophical shift from how application design is usually approached. We tend to imagine that users are static creatures who live an independent and unchanging existence outside of our applications. We merely need to give them a static set of pragmatic tools and all will be good. Games state that our job is to teach, educate and change our users. We lead them on an explicitly designed journey that leaves them with functioning skills that they could not have imagined before they started using our application. Our games start off simple and slowly add complexity. Our apps must adapt along the user's journey to reflect their changing mental models and advanced skills. Failure to do so results in a mismatch that results in frustration, boredom and burnout.

a very interesting approach to building applications. it also very much reminds me of the idea of progressive reduction.


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