Archive for February 2009

The Architecture of Fun: Massively Social On-line Games

February 27th, 2009 — 4:57pm

Here’s my pre­sen­ta­tion from the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit on as a lead­ing exam­ple of the next gen­er­a­tion of Mas­sively Social On-line Games.
As usual, I try to share some of the best think­ing on these ideas; in this case I quote lib­er­ally from Nicole Lazarro. (I hope she takes this as a com­pli­ment.) Her insights into the emo­tional dri­vers for social and game expe­ri­ences and the nature of cross media are — no sur­prise — right on, and com­ing true years after first pub­li­ca­tion.
Some of the more eye-opening mate­r­ial I dis­cov­ered while look­ing into the design of this game / com­mu­nity hybrid con­cerns the direct con­nec­tion between game mechan­ics (a design ques­tion), the space of pos­si­ble choices for play­ers, the emo­tions these choices inspire and encour­age, and the result­ing expe­ri­ence of the game envi­ron­ment.
From the func­tional to the psy­cho­log­i­cal, it seems there really is an ‘archi­tec­ture of fun’ for both games and social expe­ri­ences. It is just another exam­ple of how archi­tec­ture of any (and all) kinds is an enor­mous influ­enc­ing fac­tor on peo­ples’ expe­ri­ences.
This is the first of two parts — stay tuned for the follow-up, once we clear the dis­clo­sure ques­tion.
A slide­cast will fol­low shortly, now that my lap­top is back in work­ing order, and I can fire up ScreenFlow.

Comment » | Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Join Me For 'Beyond Findability' the IA Summit 09 Workshop

February 23rd, 2009 — 5:40am

If you’re keen to help shape the way that the user expe­ri­ences of the future are con­ceived and defined, join Andrew Hin­ton, Matthew Milan, Livia Labate, and yours truly in a full-day work­shop / sem­i­nar titled “Beyond Find­abil­ity: Refram­ing IA Prac­tice & Strat­egy for Tur­bu­lent Times” at the 2009 IA Sum­mit in Mem­phis.
We’ve got a lot of great mate­r­ial to share — and shape — on where this new[ish] dis­ci­pline is headed, from four com­ple­men­tary but dis­tinct pro­fes­sional per­spec­tives (dig­i­tal agency, in-house ser­vices group, man­age­ment, design con­sul­tancy), shared by lead­ing prac­ti­tion­ers.
Here’s a quick descrip­tion:
“Changes are hap­pen­ing fast in tech­nol­ogy, the econ­omy, and even the var­i­ous User Expe­ri­ence pro­fes­sions. In the midst of such tur­bu­lence, con­ven­tional Infor­ma­tion Archi­tec­ture can have trou­ble seem­ing fully rel­e­vant. Some may see it as a com­mod­ity, or a nar­row spe­cialty that has lit­tle to do with the game-changing emer­gence of social media, ubiq­ui­tous & mobile com­put­ing, and the rest.
This full-day work­shop will address such con­cerns with a boundary-pushing foray into IA craft and strat­egy. We’ll show how core IA skills are more rel­e­vant and strate­gi­cally impor­tant than ever, and we’ll explore how we can extend IA to its full poten­tial in 21st cen­tury UX design.“
Read more about Beyond Find­abil­ity here. Reg­is­ter here.
See you in Memphis!

Comment » | Information Architecture, User Experience (UX)

Speaking About Massively Social On-line Games In Italy

February 13th, 2009 — 5:30am

I’ll be speak­ing at the Ital­ian IA Sum­mit next week on some of the excit­ing work Medi­a­Cat­a­lyst has been doing in the area of mas­sively social on-line games. We’re the dig­i­tal agency behind, the inte­grated on-line com­mu­nity for the Kil­l­zone game series, which is just about to release it’s sec­ond install­ment (sell­ing well — Kil­l­Zone 2 is #10 on Ama­zon, in pre-orders alone).
I think hybrid expe­ri­ences that com­bine games dynamism and sophis­ti­cated social spaces are a very impor­tant part of the future for inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences, and the orga­niz­ers have been kind enough to offer us the open­ing keynote, so if you can get a ticket to Forli, we’d love to see you in the audi­ence.
Here’s the full descrip­tion of our talk:
Co-evolution of a Socially Rich Game Expe­ri­ence and Com­mu­nity Archi­tec­ture
What form will the next gen­er­a­tion of inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences take? The exact nature of the future is always unknown. But now that every­thing is ‘social’, and games are a fully legit­i­mate cul­tural phe­nom­e­non more prof­itable and more pop­u­lar than Hol­ly­wood films, we can expect to see the emer­gence of expe­ri­ences that com­bine aspects of games and social media in new ways.
One exam­ple of a hybrid expe­ri­ence that com­bines game ele­ments and com­plex social inter­ac­tions is the cross-media envi­ron­ment formed by the pop­u­lar Kil­l­zone games and their com­pan­ion site By design, the Kil­l­zone games and the site have co-evolved over time to inter­con­nect on many lev­els. In the most recent ver­sion (planned for pub­lic release in early 2009), the game con­sole and web site expe­ri­ences work in con­cert to enhance game­play with sophis­ti­cated social dynam­ics, and pro­vide an active com­mu­nity des­ti­na­tion that is ‘syn­chro­nized’ with events in the game in real time. The hybrid Kil­l­zone envi­ron­ment allows active game play­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers to move back and forth between game and web expe­ri­ences, with simul­ta­ne­ous aware­ness of and con­nec­tion to peo­ple and events in both set­tings.
Lead­ing games researcher and designer Nicole Laz­zaro calls these hybrid expe­ri­ences ‘Mas­sively Social On-line Games’. In these types of inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences, play­ers build mean­ing­ful his­to­ries for indi­vid­ual char­ac­ters and groups of all sizes through com­pet­i­tive and coöper­a­tive inter­ac­tions that take place in the linked game and com­mu­nity con­texts. Game mech­a­nisms and social archi­tec­ture ele­ments are designed to encour­age the accu­mu­la­tion of shared expe­ri­ences, group iden­ti­ties, and col­lec­tive his­to­ries. Over time, design­ers hope shared expe­ri­ences will serve as the basis for a body of social mem­ory.
This case study will fol­low the co-evolution of Kil­l­zone and, revis­it­ing major busi­ness and design deci­sions in con­text, exam­in­ing the chang­ing nature of the com­mu­nity, and con­sid­er­ing the lessons learned at each stage of the devel­op­ment of this early exam­ple of the next gen­er­a­tion of mas­sively social on-line game.

Comment » | User Experience (UX)

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