How game design can inspire
7th July 2016
In such a digital world, we are constantly surrounded by online haunts that allow us to temporarily pause from our everyday lives. From a quick glance at social media to reading an article, no matter what the platform, we love nothing more than to distract ourselves. Whether you’re a game player or not, every part of life has some relation to gaming, consciously or not.
For example, lets look quickly at the customer journey through ecommerce sites. In a way, our journey on a shopping site has already been planned out for us, from favourites lists to how our information is stored, all leads us to one final ‘game over’ scenario, here being a sale. Games are no exception. From Sega to Nintendo, Playstation to Xbox to name a few, it allows us to step out and become something else in the privacy of our own living room. And with the additional multi players from all over the world as an added attraction, where we can interact and socialise whilst we play, we can see why playing games is an integral part of today’s psyche.
But what is it that makes games so engaging and how can we use this to enhance how we design?
1. Addictive Nature
Of course the top reason for any game to succeed has to be how addictive it is to play. From high scores where we can beat and save our own goals to personifying the game as the ultimate opponent to beat, we love nothing more than to compete and be the best, human nature to always adapt and improve or try to.
Candy Crush – A highly addictive game that is simple but repetitive and fast paced as you get further into the game.
2. Roleplaying and interactivity
To be someone you’re not, many gaming sites adopt this idea where you can lose yourself and design your own avatar even to the extent of dressing and arming them with devices to make your journey easier. It’s also easy to see how users get addicted, losing themselves in the character and making an emotional connection and attachment with needing to win.
Pokemon Go – Taking gaming one step further by crossing the streams of reality and virtual reality. In this game the user has to use their smartphone to navigate around their current surroundings to find hidden pokemon (notified by a vibration) that pops out suddenly. The user then needs to use their phone to throw a poke ball to catch their prize. Not out in the UK yet, but coming soon.
3. Graphics – the world it creates
Because a game is played live, graphics have to be carefully considered due to load times. Unlike any other site that can use lazy load to prevent huge loading times, gaming has to rely on a preloader to load all the graphics up front so everything is ready from the word go. Understandably this is why we see some epic preloaders, to attract and almost distract the user temporarily through it’s clever design while we wait for our game to load.
Also the more elements offered up to the user to build their own world is another positive in retaining your audience. Allowing the users to lose themselves and take pride in what they have built, where they can show other users and almost show off their designs by using the graphics we supply.
Pet Society – A Facebook world that lets users interact and socialise as they do on the site but through a chosen character where you literally buy and design your house and character exactly how you want, shopping for food, furniture and clothes in Pet Society town. Users can then visit other players homes, therefore it’s all about status, seeing how much you have compared to someone else.
4. The platform
With so many frameworks to use out there, creating a game is getting so much easier and with it, the do’s and don’ts of a typical game design. As with most things digital, being device friendly is a biggy in ensuring you’re capturing all audiences. Some game designs create the interface narrow on purpose for a desktop. By doing this it keeps the journey similar for users across multiple devices, which not only keeps cost down but ensures that they have the most streamlined product they can offer.
Life – A really simple but highly addictive game that gets the user to follow the life of a child and challenges us to deal with the different parts of him growing up, from pushing our way out at the beginning to squeezing spots as an adolescent.
By making a game specific to the user, you’ll engage with the audience more quickly. For example, the best way to engage all users on a personal level is a good quiz, and we’re not talking the pub variety here. Lets look at Facebook quizzes. Have you ever done a 5 question quiz that tells you what “Game of Thrones” character you are most like? or “What disney film is most like your life?” We’re all guilty of doing one of these and the truth is, they are brilliant at not only creating a bit of fun and validation for us to share with our friends, but also for the companies who create them from a data pov. We voluntarily are choosing between certain products or personality traits to get to these answers, which is great at building up customer profiles.
What can we take from this in how we design in the future?
Beat the system
Users want to beat the system or at least feel like they have, enabling you to give them confidence and a little ego boost.
Users want to remember their experience, whether a journey, a site, an ad or a game, you need to be memorable in the design and how you make your user feel to be successful in capturing their time and patience.
Make the user feel like you know them, from favourites, recommended lists to welcome messages and emails using their name, these all count to the overall experience. On the flip side also helping us to compile customer profiles.
Remembering their journey / Autosaving
Google Docs do this extremely well, by using autosaving on a site or game we can stop user frustration in having to retype details and prevent cart abandonment which will retain and impress your users. It also takes another worry away from the user so they can concentrate on winning the game or completing a transaction.