Euro IA 2007 – Kars Alfrink: Playful IAs

Another stellar presentation at Euro IA in Barcelona was Kars’ Playful IAs (see presentation on SlideShare). This was a really inspiring talk. In fact, I referred to his point about IA becoming second order design in my talk. Thanks for that tip, Kars.

He talked about how the approach game designers take to creating video games can be applied to web design. I quite like this cross-disciplinary approach. There are four points to consider:

  1. Challenges – You want to engage users. This doesn’t mean pissing them off, but “Don’t Make Me Think” is really a misnomer: make people think (or enable them to think), but don’t make them frustrated.
  2. Rewards – Games reward you for completing a task or level. How can your site reward visitors for completing a step towards a goal?
  3. Goals – Of course, people come to your site to accomplish something.
  4. Feedback – Sounds like a standard design guideline, but it’s worth repeating. Let people know where they are and what they’ve done.

These aspects–borrowed from game design–can be used to approach the design of emergent web systems. The goal it to create a small rule or system or pattern that can then expand out or up as needed.

Maybe we need to start talking about fractal patterns or self-similar patterns in information architecture? Now there’s a PhD dissertation topic for you: fractal information archticture.

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

One comment

  1. Thanks James you really are too kind. :-) Glad you picked up on the fractal ‘motif’ in my talk. If you’re into that, be sure to check out Koster’s Etech07 presentation where he says “games are made out of games” and “games are made out of making choices” which in turn makes them very similar to our web environments. He uses Amazon as an example, talking about “[a] boss level encounter with one-click multiple items in different places or for different loot.” Priceless.

    On the topic of feedback: This is really where I think we can do so much more than we currently do. Yes it will put a lot more stress on the stuff we build but for them to become more open to playful interactions it should matter so much more what you’ve done before. It’s like most of the stuff we build is amnesiac, having a memory that spans no more than a few pages…

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