Another stellar presentation at Euro IA in Barcelona was Kars’ Playful IAs (see presentation on SlideShare). This was a really inspiring talk. In fact, I referred to his point about IA becoming second order design in my talk. Thanks for that tip, Kars.

He talked about how the approach game designers take to creating video games can be applied to web design. I quite like this cross-disciplinary approach. There are four points to consider:

  1. Challenges – You want to engage users. This doesn’t mean pissing them off, but “Don’t Make Me Think” is really a misnomer: make people think (or enable them to think), but don’t make them frustrated.
  2. Rewards – Games reward you for completing a task or level. How can your site reward visitors for completing a step towards a goal?
  3. Goals – Of course, people come to your site to accomplish something.
  4. Feedback – Sounds like a standard design guideline, but it’s worth repeating. Let people know where they are and what they’ve done.

These aspects–borrowed from game design–can be used to approach the design of emergent web systems. The goal it to create a small rule or system or pattern that can then expand out or up as needed.

Maybe we need to start talking about fractal patterns or self-similar patterns in information architecture? Now there’s a PhD dissertation topic for you: fractal information archticture.

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