Nicole Lazzaro did a talk at TechSoup in San Francisco awhile ago about building games for good. She said, “Games do more than points and badges. Games create rich experiences.” They immerse the user into an experience that drives them forward. She began to explore this when she stood at the top of an Egyptian temple and found a game board carved in the stone. What experiences were these people looking for? Games are something ingrained in human history. Emotion has an invisible pull on human action. Choose the right type of mechanics to support your cause.

Where would you be in 2020? What is the goal you are trying to reach? We can utilize games to reach human potential to improve the quality of life. Choice on a cognitive level. Emotion is your silent partner in every decision you make. Every time you design an interaction you are designing an emotion. Joy of riding a bike is turning the wheel and pushing the pedals.

How player interaction creates emotion: As Interaction Designers, we are creating emotion whether we intend to or not. Emotions help people focus, remember, decide, perform, and learn. For example, Diner Dash has angry customers that run away should you not handle their needs in an appropriate time. Thus, you remember to serve them, to take their order, to hand them a drink to boost “happiness”. This makes it easier to learn the mechanics.

According to Nicole, the best selling games have 3 out of the 4 keys of fun (hard, easy, people, & serious). Fun is emotion driven and each key focuses on a particular area of fun, from the challenge to the “bubble wrap”. You can define the features to help define the experience the player chooses the emotion.


Let’s start with hard fun. In games, we don’t necessarily want easy so usability can steer us wrong. Hard fun is about balance; not too hard or two easy. But if you get it then you have fiero (the feeling of getting so frustrated that you want to quit and then being successful).

Twitter is broken… putting numbers below a persons icon encourages people to game the system to get a better personal quotient

Progression of difficulty goes up. Foursquare doesn’t have that after a while of accomplishing badges. Thus there’s no mastery in the “game”. If you want to Master something you need to build up that challenge.

Easy fun:
novelty… it’s like a wii remote… there’s a sheer joy to just interacting.
My new favorite game (Air Control – bad name) is super addicting because it requires mastery to land the planes, novelty of being in that control
Sheer joy of controls in the iphone it can be simply tilting the screen to get an action from a character… Story can build curiosity (murder mystery). If something is too predictable then you feel like you are out of that experience. Mystery eggs from Farmville. Google changes it’s icon and then you might click to find out what they are pointing out. As a search engine you want to design to discover… unlock the imagination

Serious Fun:
People intentionally play games to change how they think feel and react… There’s actually an article about the reaction time of those who play games… They will play wii fit to get in shape, brain age to increase memory, reward systems… IDEO’s carpet sweeper like Bejeweled – collect all you can, enhance progress, aspire & acquire Apple tapped into this with the apps on your phone. I feel good that I am better at brain age. Players don’t care just about the points or the money but they care about the value. What are they getting out of it? How they feel about things in the real world will tap into how they feel about the game. Serious fun should feel like a reward, progress, growing over time… Casual game has a 60 min trial. Users need to see that they are going to be able to “grow” in the game mastery. The more you give the more they feel like they are getting something out of it. “You suck” “I know let me play again!” There can be the emotion within the games. Amplify the feedback within games (rainbows, stars, fireworks, etc). Starwalk – has real time interaction by making the data come alive by allowing you to move your screen around to see the constellations.

People fun:
NOt just about distribution… if you are going to change human behaviour working with other folks will help make that change happen. Support can be social (should be social). If you have more people involved the more fun the games are. The more something (social tokens) grows within emails, etc then the more fun it is for people. Your game can be a social token. Pets have a lot of emotions… social emotions. “Petting my iphone makes me happy.” Range of interactions on Facebook (sharing a picture, inviting someone to a party, etc…) allows for a growth of emotion – hence why it’s so popular… Flipboard – social media magazine by browsing your friends posts… Tomagotchi like feel with the character (seeing the emotion) and wanting to do care taking). In Farmville you have the serious fun of completion when you are able to accomplish building a barn on your property (getting bricks, etc… social bonding of getting those).

Best practices template for building games:
Ashoka – cards to hand out
Linkedin – completion bar (people need to write recs to complete)


Action (Tilt to play – simple action can change everything)
Easy (
Tell a story

Interesting (not pushy or overpowering)
Obstacles (Constraints opposing force for failure. Clear opposing force.)




Beyond Game Design, Bateman
Game Usability, labister
Human – Computer Interaction Handbook, Jako

Do paper prototyping first and see if people like it

You can use game salad to make a game.