January 10, 2023

Games, business, interfaces. Part 1: Experience design tools

This is part 2 in our series about experience design by JetStyle’s CEO Alexey Kulakov. 

The entire series of articles consists of three parts:

  • Part 1: what a game is, what types of games exist and what are their main features – read it here,
  • Part 2 (this one): about gaming tools that can be used for interaction design,
  • Part 3 will be about the parallel between games, UX design and business.

Tools of Interaction Design
Today we will talk about three tools:

  • the structure of the game,
  • the structure of the role,
  • the types of motivation.

Let's talk about each of them in more detail.

Tool 1. The structure of the game

This is the structure of any interactive activity in general. ‘Interactive’ means: 

  • there is an intensive interaction between the parties in the activity,
  • it represents a coherent concept, 
  • It ensures something valuable, useful or meaningful happens to people.

The structure is based upon this triad: the opening event, the exploring (the action itself) one, and the closing event. In our management ‘slang’, this is called problematization, action and reflection.

I borrowed the picture with the "candy" scheme from the book “Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers ”. By the way, it is a very useful book. If you're looking for some simple quasi-gaming business forms, this is one of the best sources. The book will help you understand how to implement games into work situations.

Problematization

Immerse in the problem

Each game is designed to solve a problem. It is not necessarily given in terms of the problem. It's about what we consider important in this game, what mood we propose to play, why we do it, etc.

This can be an event that is already happening in the game or happened before the game. We can tell this to the players directly, or we can put them through the questionnaire. Or we can just devote a part of the game to this.

A person needs problematization to understand the focus of their attention: “Here are the goals I am choosing. These are the rules I must accept and agree with.”

 

Help understand the forms of the game

To get directly into the world of the game and feel immersed in it, the player needs to let themselves be captured. Also they need to become a part of this world, and agree to receive a benefit from what is happening. 

A person must understand in advance whether he or she is ready for this. Therefore, it is advisable to let them try it. In modern games, we do this mainly through workshops. 

 

Make sure that goals and rules are accepted

Just like in games, in business and product development there is an artificial reality that is created by the joint ideas and coordinated actions of all participants. The norm about accepting the rules exists because if a person begins to ignore the rules, they destroy the reality around them. After all, this reality works only as long as these rules and conventions are shared and followed by everyone.

Accepting the rules is a contract between the game organizer and the player, or between the service owner and the user, or between the manager and the employee. It's all the same. The owner of the game space – the game master or the owner of the service/business – says something like this:

“Dear friend, if you violate the contract, you will go to hell. Remember this".

Usually, in a role-playing community, this is a rather mild norm. The person gets several warning shots into the air. 

For example, an author comes to Rideró publishing service to publish their book. They have some agreements with us. If they start publishing something else instead of a book, for example, a Wikipedia article, or try to abuse our service, this doesn't fit the agreed behavior setting. Our space is not intended for this. The offer, which is signed by the author, sets the boundaries of what they can do in the service without doing badly to other "players".

 

What is more important: goals or rules?

You may have more or less rigid ways of creating the reality of the game. It is important that they are understood in the same way by all participants. So that when one makes the assumption that we behave this way, observe such conventions or work according to such explicit rules, they could be sure that all other participants mean the same and will behave accordingly.

Why is it important in business? Because this way we save efforts on communication, and improve efficiency. In other words, together we produce more useful work per unit of time.

If we disagree about the rules we play by, this leads to a completely opposite effect. I call it the "tax on thinking." This makes everything much, much slower. The quality of the result decreases, too. It also makes the space unsafe and kills trust. The speed of thinking and trust is the foundation of what makes a relationship productive while creating something useful.

It is not very important whether you are acting according to explicit rules or by default, it is important that you all have a common understanding of this.

What comes first – style, goal, or rules – is the decision of the owner of the space.

What's important for business here is that rules are a tougher and more reliable tool. They can be formally analyzed, and we can explicitly determine who is right within them. Conventions and style are soft tools and are inseparable from subjective interpretation. Rules are great for managing competitor relationships or any other games around resources. Agreements do a much better job of creating and translating cultural norms, they are more flexible and less restricting the freedom of participants.

It's the same story in business. At JetStyle, we don't have many rules, and if you follow only them, you can make a lot of mistakes. We try to make it clear to everyone why we are doing this. For JetStyle, goals are more important than rules, but there are other organizations.

Part 2 coming soon. 

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