Social software as a collaborative game
Ralph Koster gave an interesting talk at etech about lessons from game design for social software. There were several things that seemed right and useful.
* challenge. Overcoming challenges and learning are key to fun. Games are designed to provide a successive series of challenges. By contrast, the software design paradigm is focused on ease of use. This is right for an ecommerce site that a user uses once, but is wrong for applications that people use and learn over time.
* contextual interfaces. in a game world, the monster acts differently if you approach from the front or behind. Game designers create information architectures that present different behavior depending on context. By contrast, the software IA paradigm is about consistency.
The talk was also missing a few things, I think. His psychological model was individualistic. It was all about the individual player, and didn’t talk about the social factors – decoration, storytelling, came creation. And his social model was purely competitive. “Of course,”, he says, “people are playing the game to win. ” But people play games with a variety of motivations, and social software includes ways to play individually and collaboratively, in addition to competitively.
This topic is really interesting and needs some more fleshing out.