Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's not just a game ...

... it's a role model for people trying to design learnable software:

This is about how these two universes should collide and that means what I’m really talking about is gamification. There’s a reason I didn’t mention this until paragraph 17 because there are a lot of folks who think gamification means pulling the worst aspects out of games and shoving them into an application. It’s not. Don’t think of gamification as anything other than clever strategies to motivate someone to learn so they can have fun being productive.

I've always thought that one of the great insights for people trying to learn how to build better software was to realize that great computer games didn't give you a manual. If you start out by giving them a manual, you've failed. As Lopp points out, this applies to all software, not just to games:

That’s how I want to learn. Don’t give me a book; I don’t want a lecture, and I don’t want a list of topics to memorize. Give me ample reason to memorize them and a sandbox where I can safely play. Test me when I least expect it, shock me with the unknown, but make sure you’ve given me enough understanding and practice with my tools that I have a high chance of handling the unexpected.

"Shock me with the unknown" -- what a great slogan!

I remember the first time I was faced with the Chrome browser, and my first thought was: "that's it?" There didn't seem to be enough buttons, and enough places to type, and enough controls to operate the thing. But there was just enough there to get me interested enough to type something, and click on something, and pretty soon I was off and running.

That's gamification.

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