In most new product development efforts, a designer’s goal is to reduce friction and promote flow. This also applies when designing web pages or when building an online shopping cart.
Most Designers try to make things as simple as possible for the intended user.
In game development, friction can be used to build a challenge. This insight was presented by Daniel Burka, who described himself as a web designer, during his interview of David Gillis, who characterized himself as an Interaction Designer, in the "Friction Can Be a Good Thing : The role of gaming dynamics in user experience" article from UX Magazine, 21 October 2010.
According to Burka and Gillis, “Much of the fun in a game involves solving puzzles and learning how to achieve objectives more efficiently. So you actually want to learn how to do things more efficiently.” They add, “There is a fine line between what is challenging and what is frustrating.”
A great game has challenges that a motivated player can master.
Burka and Gillis used the phrase "Design Friction" to describe this concept. They do not use the word gamification.
The Design Friction concept is not the same as gamification. It can not be gamification when it it in a game:
Finding the Fun
According to Clinton Keith (@ClintonKeith, www.agilegamedevelopment.com), author of Agile Game Development with Scrum, the greatest challenge in game development is "finding the fun: exploring mechanics and isolating the core gameplay that will draw players." This objective provides focus and direction to the development network. Strategies and tactics regarding items such as architecture or game physics should support this objective.
The use of design friction is one way to shape fun in gameplay.
Reducing friction in new product development networks
Most of the time, individual contributors (which includes people with diverse functional specialties such as designers, developers, scientists, engineers, domain experts, and communication specialists involved in new product development efforts) strive to reduce friction for the intended users of a new product. Typically, gamification can be used to:
- Make the technology more engaging
- Encourage users to engage in the desired behaviors
- Facilitate a faster path to making the user successful in accomplishing their goals
- Introduce fun into the user experience
Designing for fun in new product development networks
New product development environments are impacted by friction. Popular options that networks may consider include:
- Adoption of new tools
- Evaluation of new, explicit practices, methodologies, principles, and theories
- Analysis of metrics
- Re-arrangements of the organizational chart
In my experience, the previously listed items tend not to produce fun for individual contributors. Most of the time, the previously listed approaches do not reduce friction and promote flow.
However, the concept of design friction can be applied to items such as:
- Improving the perception of autonomy, mastery, and purpose [this has been described by authors such as Daniel Pink in his book Drive] of individual contributors
- Improving cooperation, collaboration, and harmony within the network
Future posts will explore specific approaches to applying the Design Friction concept to upgrade new product development (NPD) paradigms.