Notes on Christina Wodtke’s Mechanics of Magic

from the video of her presentation at UXLX July 2014, link here.

Games center around emotion, design for emotion by creating hypotheses such as:

  • Until my players feel __________, I won’t ship
  • Negative emotions are powerful also and are valid to design for

Bartel’s Player Types

  • KIllers
  • Achievers
  • Explorers
  • Socializer

Social game player types

  • Express themselves
  • Collaborators
  • Explorers
  • Competers

Who are the major player types for your product? What is the engagement style of your personas?

Core Loops drive engagement

  • Multiple steps over time required to achieve success
    • Example Fish Ville: You buy standard fish eggs; care for the eggs until fish hatch; clean cages etc while they grow; then sell the adults and buy exotic fish eggs and start over
    • Others loops include:
      • Consume > React > Share > (back to Consume)–driven by social sharing
      • Buy > Review > Shopt < (back to Buy)–driven by social reviews

The vast majority of apps are never used or used only once (like 90% or something)–core loops give folks a reason to come back

Aesthetics are at the core of games

  • They have to be key to the product development lifecycle from the beginning
  • Sim City and Zynga’s version, The Ville, have very different audiences due to the design strategy
    • Sim City is very complex and detail-oriented, with controls for creating infrastructures, utilities etc
    • The Ville is more focused on being Zynga-cute and surface-oriented, infrastructures etc were thrown out and the building styling is brighter, rounder, softer, “cuter”
  • Consider the interfaces for Photoshop and Paper app–core functionality is similar but the UI and UX differences create totally different experiences

From Wikipedia: Christina R. Wodtke (born October 22, 1966) is an American businesswoman and specialist in the area of user experience design and information architecture. Wodtke has held a series of executive roles in the tech industry, most notably leading teams who built the events platform and created an algorithm for Linkedin’s newsfeed, leading a redesign of Myspace and its profile pages and leading the design and launch of the gaming platform.



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