Colour blind mode: a way to include more players into the game

Playing a game is more than just connecting your devices with a new system. It’s being part of a context that makes sense, a magical world, full of new experiences, stories, characters and challenges.

The way colour blind people perceive this image

For a game designer, it shouldn’t be different. In the book Rules of Play, the authors Salen and Zimmerman argue that the creation of meaning (and, in that case, a meaningful play) should be the goal of a successful game. So, considering this, the role of the designer is to build significant systems, that will be the encountered by players and then, create experiences.

Now imagine the scenario. You’re a game designer and you have to create a game that is suitable for colour blind people. How would you proceed? And why?

First, it’s known that are lots of levels of colour blindness. People that have this problem can’t perceive the colours very well. As a designers, we could work in a palette of colours that are considered as “safe“. Or there is another process that is adding symbols to each colour, the Coloradd, that tries to translate the colours into forms. Designers can also transform their computer into a colour blind mode, using tools like ColorOracle, that create a simulation of the environment.
However, is that possible to create a colour blind mode to a game and not compromise the system?
Well, Supermagical is a game that tried to do this. Created by a japanese company called Gala Pocket, the story is about Nina (a cute witch) and her evil sisters, living in the world full of magic and colourful monsters. The mechanics of the game are a mixture of different worlds (levels) and matching colours. It seems fun, right? More than that.
Supermagical is a game full of surprises and the best one was the color blind mode. But how did they manage that? The game uses aspects of the default interface, adding icons for colour blind (as the gameplay is like “matching colours and elements”). With that, the gameplay basis is not affected.

default version

However the experience might be still different. For players that see colours without any problem, this is just colour matching. But, for players that are colour blind, the basics is matching icons. The initiative is good, because it includes more people into the gameplay, transforming them into participants of this magical world. The aspect of “inclusion” is part of the meaningful experience. Why? Because the game can understand people’s skills and limits and can also create an environment that matches the player’s context.

 

version for colour blind

This is why a meaningful gameplay should take as principle not only rules, environment, culture, structure, mechanics and design elements. It should concentrate also in the skills of the player. This is what we call as “flow”. Flow is a concept very used in games, as an aspect of success or well designed gameplay experience, when you “lose time” or “forget to eat, because it’s so immersed into the game”. What we know too is that flow it’s the relationship between challenges and skills of the player, where everything should be balanced.

So, is Supermagical a good case of games for colour blind? Let’s say that yes, it is. At some point it includes more people to the game but some aspects are still not the same (e.g. inclusion of symbols). And maybe it won’t be. Who knows? Perhaps it should be different anyway. What we can see is that this is a good case study of games that encompasses more people and this concept should be adopted by games designers in the whole world. Just because playing together is more fun!

Further reading
Why games need color blind modes – see SimCity with simulated color blindness
Flow in games
Why all designers need to understand color blindness
Tips for Designing for Colorblind Users

It’s all about flat, and I’m sick of it

The widely expected day that Apple would launch new features has come. The Apple’s annual WWDC conference brought lots of suprises for the community. The most commented fact was that iOS7 has been completely redesigned, becoming flatter… And….

I must say that it seems that everyone just got interested by the flat interface. I believe in context + funcionality. I think that making things more simple is always the best choice. Why we don’t call flat as just interface? Sometimes it sounds like an artistic movement, like surrealism.

Visual design is in the top of the UX iceberg. That’s the feature that people really ‘see’ but and the rest of the structure? Where is it? I believe that one app/system should work well for what we really need in a specific context. What I mean about it is that, in my opinion, interaction should be meaningful. It should work according to people’s needs. I don’t mind if this is flat. Maybe it’s better for my reading. I need to test it before saying anything. But the keyboard is going to change? And the gestures? Are we ok with this interaction? Is that ok?

 

 

 

I will tell a story. My dad is a businessman and he told me: “I got a good app in my tablet (showed me Google Translate) and you don’t need to type anything, just write and it recognizes your handwritting.” Well, this is good because in my app in my Ipad I need to type. And I must say, I don’t like typing in my devices. Why? I don’t feel this is the best experience for me. And I think this can be other people’s problem. But we are always getting used to new technologies.


And what does it have to do with flat? Well, again I don’t mind if it’s flat. I don’t need flat. I need something that works for me in my context. I don’t need 3D icons, fliters, rainbows.

Is that really important?
I’m not saying that I don’t agree with iOS 7. I just don’t think flat is more important than a new interaction or solution for an old problem (keyboard?).

Wait till fall
However we can’t judge an interface without interacting with it. That’s the main problem of all the discussions. We are only looking at the top of the iceberg and forgetting all the rest. How do we know if this really works? We all know that interfaces work better in their contexts. We can’t say it doesn’t work or not without using it.

Make something better, then criticize
I remember listening to Don Norman’s presentation at Interaction South America last year – we can’t say that this is a bad solution if we don’t have any other solution. However, WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL. So I will leave this post with just a suggestion. We have a LOT of work to do.

See more:
http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672780/why-jony-ive-is-flattening-ios-7
http://thenextweb.com/apple/2013/06/10/apple-2013-wwdc-keynote-ios7-revealed/
http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/design/
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-10/apple-revamps-iphone-software-in-push-to-end-product-funk.html

Brazilian references:
http://youpix.com.br/viral-2/top-10-reacoes-ao-lancamento-do-ios-7/
http://www.techtudo.com.br/noticias/noticia/2013/06/apple-apresenta-novidades-para-o-ios-e-mac-os-x-na-wwdc-2013.html

photo credit: Glamour Cat via photopin (license)

The unexpected, choices and the filter bubble

First, let’s paint a scenario. People are getting information from web every day and since then, this content seems to be shaped for them, according to their previous choices. With this, people that have the same interest are meeting up and sharing experiences. Also web companies are giving people tailored services, based on their profile.
It seems cliché blaming technology to take us privacy, unexpected discoveries and choices. If you say that you don’t have more privacy, then, it’s Facebook’s fault, for example. But, well, you can choose not sharing your life on the internet… Can’t you? So, what is that all about?

The bubble
The filter bubble is a situation when you have this sensation of being sealed in a world full of the same opinions. Imagine this: you are interested about elections and you want to know more about the candidates. So, you search for their names. With that, the search robot will see, well, you have this type of ideas, so I’m going to show you more about it. That’s one feature of the filter bubble. Because you’ve made a choice in the past, then the machine filters will show you content that seems to be more relevant to you.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch Eli Pariser’s TED talk, I suggest you to do this now. Pariser created the concept of filter bubble on 2011 and also published a book with the same name. He said “Personalization is based on a bargain. In exchange for the service of filtering, you hand large companies an enormous amount of data about your daily life–much of which you might not trust your friends with.” Well, this means that we must be aware of the data we are sharing in the web. But, do we really have a choice? That’s one point of this discussion and I don’t have an answer. Maybe yes, we do and we are choosing to see more relevant content, why not?

Unexpected
Another point is about experiencing serendipity moments. Where can we find the unexpected? Where is the moment when you discover something really new? Magic happens out of our comfort zone, right? So, if we stay tied up in our opinions, we will be safe and flat. And, well, that doesn’t seem creative, because we lose the opportunity to discover new ideas to problem-solving. Living in this paradox is very complicated.
It seems pessimistic, but I think we are allowing this to happen. Well, you can filter things according from your interests. Why not? But you must be aware that if you choose to see one side of your idea, you will be losing other opportunities. That’s the nature of choice. And I also think that unexpected moments are not random. They should have a little logic inside it. They are insightful.

Choices and logic
Well, I think choices are related to actions, logic and complexity. Too many choices can create confusing or frustrating experiences and normally you think before choosing (unless you are guessing the lottery’s numbers). In my opinion, if we can see logic in choice, than we can try to develop some insightful experiences.

Patterns?
Maybe it’s possible to design experiences like that by finding some patterns in the user’s choices and insights. Well, if something is insightful, it has a meaning. So, in order to design meaningful experiences, designers need to find what can be significant for the users. And this is related to metaphors, culture, semantics and signifiers.

Conclusion
Is really the filter bubble the bad guy in that context? I think the bubble is something that we need to be aware, because we share our data in the web, more than we share things with our friends and family.
However, knowing one side of the coin, like the tailored-made services, people should try to find other opinions, out of the comfort zone and I think this is where the designer should be. Designers need to create new experiences that will be meaningful and this is a challenge. Finding patterns in the choices can be one way.
But as everyone, I’m learning about it. So, please share your opinion here :)

References
How is web personalisation affecting the news?
Are we stuck in filter bubbles? Here are five potential paths out
Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?
DuckDuckGo’s New Video Targets Google’s “Filter Bubble” Of Personalized Results
How Organic Development Generates Serendipitous Experiences

photo credit: Bubbles via photopin (license)

Why is everyone running?

Everyone is running. Competitions are happening all the weekends and people that used to be sedentary are now moving their body and burning calories. The competitions became a party where people meet each other and share their new accomplishments. Is this the consequence of the healthy apps rise? Why is that happening now?

Mobile and health
Have you ever had the opportunity to see your friend’s apps? Well, I bet that if they are trainning for running, they must have a run app. I have one friend that said that the trainer on the gym said to her to download an app and she sent the right trainning for beginners. So why are those apps becoming famous? Well, they help people to get prepared for running anytime you want – without a personal trainer – and some of them are game-like. A good example of games and running is the “Zombies, Run!“, That’s a fun and healthy app, that creates a scenario of zombie invasion, and then you need to escape from it.

Being social
The apps are also connected to socialmedia, so people can see when you achieved a goal. One example is Runkeeper, that helps you to track your workout and also share your results. Due to it, your friends can also create a motivation for running, thinking that well, if someone can do it, why I cannot?
I personally hear this a lot, like “how can you manage to run at 6am?”. Yep, it’s possible become a “morning person”.

Motivation
In this context, I think motivation comes from:
– Part of the community: “Everyone is running, so why am I not doing the same?”
– Apps that simulate games: “The zombies are going to attack me, I must get prepared”
– Physical sensations: “Yay, serotonin!”
– Health: “I want to be healthy. This is good to me”
– Competitions in unusual places: “I want to run through the Chinese wall” – Experiences :)
– Medals: “One more medal to my bedroom wall” – Taking a picture and posting of Facebook

Freedom
People are now training for the competitions that seems more like a big event. “When I’m running I feel free” – I’ve heard this from one friend. People are looking for experiences, more then being healthy. They want to run the Chinese Walls, mountains, old cities. The objective is not being a professional runner, like Bolt.

Experiences
The color run, for example, is one big event that creates an experience. You run 5k, and in each km people will throw colored powder on you. By the way, I’ve found out that it’s part of indian culture. During the spring time they do exactly the same thing… Curious? On 16th december we will have this running on Rio de Janeiro and, well, I’ll be there.

The prize now is not only a medal or just being healthy. What you win is the experience. So, what are you waiting for? :)
The author will post about this experience in the next week. I hope to survive!

Read more
Can apps and GPS watches really make you run faster?
10 Essential iPhone Apps for Runners
The Great Wall Marathon
Midnight Sun Marathon

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The future of mobility and smartphones

This week people were talking about the imminent end of the smartphone Era, driven by the launching of Google Glass and Microsoft’s version of the same object.

Mobility

The smartphone Era exists because we are living a moment that mobility is a reality. We are accessing data everywhere from a variety of devices, that could have different sizes, weights, platforms and brands.

It’s difficult to say that Google Glass or other tool will be the future or a fad. It is the behaviour that will determine what kind of object that we will want to use. Devices are tools, not the objective. First we need to understand mobility.

App economy
However, some people say that this smartphone Era can be called as the app economy: we are buying apps for everything. Again, it reflects the people’s desires and emotions. Mobility is not the act to acquire apps. Actually, some people prefer to have one app that combine other apps, promoting an accurate experience and access to relevant information.

I’m not saying that Google Glass is the future. We don’t know what will be people’s desires in the next years. A non-screen experience?

In my opinion, mobility is the way we transform our reality and add more interactions to it. We access data everywhere. It’s the way we use a tool to get more information about our context. The experiences are highlighted and complete. That’s why mobility puts services in the core of the present situation. But again, will smartphones be the right tool for this context?

photo credit: Heads Down Device via photopin (license)

Experiences related to art exhibition: an approach to emotional interaction

Art doesn’t have a final objective. However, it starts a sensitive and metal experiences overflow with itself. We will always look for a reference inside our repertoire or even add more interactive patterns to our lives. This article intend to build a parallel between the moment we try to learn and understand the masterpiece and the minute we want to increase our interactive repertoire. So, how can we open new possibilities to the process, when we develop a new experience for the user? How to reach emotionally our user, considering artistic assumptions?
Let’s take one example from one exhibition I’ve experienced recently. I went to William Kentridge‘s drawings and animation gallery at Rio de Janeiro. In this scenario, I’m the user, but without any objective to be the user. I’m just the way the experience can appear.
My purpose here it’s to understand and to share what I think about increasing the interaction repertoire through art analysis.

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE - Source: Artsy website
WILLIAM KENTRIDGE – Source: Artsy website

Context perception
First of all, I didn’t know the context and his life story. I went there opened to experience whatever my senses could get in return. While visiting the rooms, I started understanding the context, and making my mental questions and assumptions.
When we start an experience analysis with the understanding and life story of one masterpiece, we face some similarities, like the context perception. In other words, we start to define the place where the story lives. We try to approach to something that we know inside us, from our repertoire.
So, with Kentridge’s exhibition, I’ve experienced a context of politics and dramatic issues from his culture and life story.

Cognitive process
What does the artist want here? What’s the theme? What’s his/her problem? Which are his/her references (repertoire)? Asking the right questions help us get relevant answers. When we try to understand the scenario and immerse to the context, we are touched by a significant emotion.

Reaction to one interaction
If everything is raw experience , so the environment interaction is natural. It’s a reaction to one action that is started by the artist (even if he/she doesn’t have this intention). That’s one cognitive reaction through emotion.
Thereat, the experience in the exhibition could help us to understand the artist’s creative process.

Choices and creative process
The artistic analysis presuppose the recognition and acceptance of the artist’s choices in that context. Why did the artist choose this material? Why use this technique?
In Kentridge work, we could see the use of coal as drawing tool, and 12 framed animation films.
The choices reflect the way we perceive reality. The perception overflow reverberates new experiences and interactions.
The drawing made of coal by Kentridge had one purpose, that was highlighted by the idea of having a memory in each drawing. The coal is one material that is difficult to be erased, so the artist used this feature to show the memory. Other impression was the colors: the paper is white and the coal is black. This shows the issue of apartheid in South Africa (place that the artist was born). Choices create significance, now that we relate it to the context and to our repertoire.
We know the apartheid issue because we read news. We couldn’t get the hidden message without having this information before. But we can learn new things from new contexts and stories.

Repertoire expansion
We add experienced events this to our interactive pattern library. It’s like training our senses to understand every fact. We need to be curious and open-minded.
Living the experience in exhibitions it’s important for the designer that wants to create new emotional interactions for the user, while designing a project. If you want to be an experience designer, you need to live them out of your own paradigms.

Experiences create more experience
All interaction designer must have a comprehensive range of sensory experiences and mental stimulation. Art exhibitions can help us to add more emotional interactions to our repertoire. We improve our cognitive perception.
The establishment of a broad overview of interactions and responses should be part of our repertoire not only as a designer but as a human being.

Note: Going to write only about my impressions of Kentridge’s exhibition. This was a memorable experience.

References
Artsy WILLIAM KENTRIDGE
Co-experience: Understanding user experiences in social interaction
Uncomfortable Interactions
William Kentridge: Five Themes

 

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Designing with details [#isa2012]

Today’s post it’s about microinteractions and the importance of the details. Last week we had a conference about interaction design (#ISA2012) in São Paulo and I decided to make separated posts about the talks.
Microinteractions are the way we experience detailed events. So, when we try to approach a design process with attention to details, we are talking about creating microinteractions. Thus, while trying to solve massive problems through design tools, the details are often lost during the process. We should work by the bottom up system, giving more attention to small things. This is the theme of Dan Saffer’s new book, “Microinteractions“.

Do one task well
Improving the microinteractions is creating engagement. This means that we should attempt to small details. “The details are not the details. They make the design” – Charles Eames. So, details must be seen as special parts of one big project.
Besides, it’s better to manage and control the work, when we are building a fragmented and complex scenario. For example, creating a small form, or the feedback from translation words on Facebook.

Transform moments into instances of pleasure
Microinteractions are good for accomplish a single task. We can interact with a small piece of data and get the maximum of feedback from it or even create a small part of content that is totally relevant.

Do not overlook microinteractions
If the interaction is poor, the features get surrounded by pain and frustration.
While designing, we must consider the big picture and details to improve the user experience.

Multi-platform
Small interactions fit well on small devices. Dan Saffer says that while designing microinteractions we can adapt the features to each device, allowing consistency.

Previewing actions
With the attention to details and micro interactions we can try to preview actions. This happens when we focus in loops and modes, by the tripod made of trigger, rules and feedback. It’s about bringing the data forward and understanding the user needs.
A good feedback can transform they way we learn the rules and the loops.

Patterns
I think that maybe with established microinteractions, we can try to create interaction patterns. So while designing a product, we can see which small interactions are concrete. It’s like going to the library and follow a guideline. Perhaps with an accurate pattern, we can develop tools for a better experience. If the big picture can be created by microinteractions and detailed experiences, we can try to approach to human interactions.

References
Designing for Interaction
Changing Perspective: A New Look At Old Problems
Touching the desktop – Modern micro-interaction and burdens of the past
Interfaces on the go

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Creating meaningful interactions through games [#isa2012]

Yesterday, I posted about Prototyping experiences. Last week we had a conference about interaction design(#ISA2012) in São Paulo and I decided to make separated posts about the talks.

During the third talk of the day, Olli Leno, explained why the future of games is emotional and how we can relate experiences and cognition.

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Meaningful playability

We create meaning from the quest for more emotional computer games, transforming games into playable artifacts. Olli Leno says that emotions define the way we relate to experiences, that’s why it’s important to design meaningful and emotional playability.
The future of games is emotional, not technological. Games are in pre-Citizen-Kane Era. They need to be reinvented in terms of content and address some issues from the real world. You need to feel the game as you are feeling the real world.

Playing is believing
Play is a primal mental action and emotions are judgments and interpretations of the world. The more we care, stronger is the emotion. This is known as a relative intensity.
The origins of the emotions in play is the interpretation of the game. The system’s content is the object of emotion.

Engagement and context

Caring about is a necessary condition for emotional judgment. So, why do players care? They do it because of threats of violence, rules, goals, challenges… Therefore if the challenge is right, the game is fun.
Games can also transform the context and its artifacts. Playable tools and elements can be meaningful if we create playable forms from this context. For example: a pinball machine it’s a game that became material.

Game-rules x rules
The players can get a positive description of the game behavior or rules that they need to incorporate. We are responsible for the freedom we enjoy and choose.

The possibility of failure makes playability
The GAME OVER meaning is that, you can fail in your quest. What makes Tetris playable? That you can lose. Failure is about significance. It provides a baseline for caring about in-game objects.
The Sims, for example, is a sandbox and it has no pre-defined goals but lots of opportunities to fail (like setting fire into the kitchen and letting your Sims to die)

But how to create caring?
Players need to survive in the game world. This creates a fear of failure that moves the game forward and gives an emotional commitment to the scenario.
The context became material and meaningful, so the players don’t want to lose the game, because it’s important to them to maintain this relationship.

Interaction through meaning
So when we create emotions through games, it’s possible to understand and offer more experiences for the players through meaningful choices. In order to create a complete interaction, we need to consider the logic of caring, emotional cognition and feedback.

References
On simulation, aesthetics and play: Artifactual Playground
Bringing emotions to video games
What is Love?
Social psychology
Emotions about the Deniable/Undeniable: Sketch for a Classification of Game Content as Experienced

photo credit: Art of Video Games Exhibit 15104 via photopin (license)