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Learn from Games

From Social Patterns

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...the fascinating intersection between game design and social design that’s opening up new possibilities for social experiences in game environments and introducing playful elements to social interfaces. An application doesn’t have to literally be a game or be presented as a game to employ many of the same design techniques that make games fun to play.

It’s no coincidence that Ludicorp’s first product was something called Game Neverending (their second was Flickr, which owes at least some of its success to the almost addictive gamelike quality of its user interfaces).

Even in the enterprise, interfaces don’t have to be dry and tedious. Think about how to delight your users and encourage them to engage with each other.

Games are among the oldest “social interfaces.” The rules and tokens of a game provide a set of affordances and an environment in which people interact. In fact, people will make up their own games with whatever elements they find handy. Many of the “memes” that spread on sites like LiveJournal, blogs, MySpace, and Facebook ("Which Buffy Character Are You?” “37 Things You Didn’t Know About My Cat,” or “iPod Shuffle Ouija”) utilize built-in posting, commenting, and polling features, which isn’t to say that you couldn’t encourage your users to invent games for each other by giving them generative tool with which to do so.

See Also


Earlier draft was called Be a Game