Designing for Play – reboot7

Ben Cerverny is now up talking about designing for play. Here’s my interpretation of what he is saying.

In many species, play is being used to drive the ‘grammar’ of interactions, to set boundaries for interactions, put some order around the chaos that is out there. We use play to make sense of the world when growing up.

But humans carry on playing after the time other species would stop and get on with surviving. We take games develop them for their own sake. We continue to use games as metaphors for life, continue to explore the world – back to Doc Searls reference to language and despcription is all about something else – we rarely create a brand new language, but look for metaphors and usages from things we’ve used or experienced before.

So games can potentially allow us to explore a new way of thinking by driving out different metaphors.

“There are multiple states of play” – there can be many modes and many stages in the game. there are challenges in learning the game, learning the metaphors, so designers can put in a learning space, where you can set the parameters, set up characters, and think before you enter the game. you move between composition and performance.

Interactive games reflect the need for ‘state machines’, where humans run through a series of rules, usually subconcious, that are developed to allow sense to be made of the world. In games, the state machines are designed, controlling the rules of the game. And players get immersed in the rules, internalise them, and then recognise the rules of the world they are playing in. Increasing metadata, increasing sources of date mean that more rules need to be recognised. Playing with the inputs increases the speed of creating the rules, creating new world views, allows the player and the viewers to quicker grasp the complexity.

Simlutions, like the Sims, are different from many games; they don’t have a winner at the end. The game is in the playing, not the winning. The state machine here can be the result of thousands of interactions and we can;t predict the result. Humans need occasional chaos to drive the thought (back to Open Sauce marketing, the previous talk). Chaos can surprise you and produce something new.

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