2007.10.23 New forms of Interaction
While playing a video game recently, it struck me that when presented with a new way to interact with a device how we can be surprised and impacted. It's been interesting to play games on Nintendo's two newest systems – the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii. Both systems introduce new form(s) of input available from users. I'm not an expert on the systems or the subject of human & system interactions—just a normal person like most others. It's just been interesting to me.
Between the two systems here are some actions I've made that I don't recall having done previously while playing a game (at least something that was designed to impact gameplay): swung my arm, twisted my wrist, pointed at an enemy, tapped an enemy, drew a line (a circle, a line for direction, to swing a sword), talked to a character, blew out a candle, punched, shook my hand (not in anger ;)… and I'm sure there are others, but these I could think of off the top of my head. How many different opportunities does that open to somebody as a user? How many new ways can that be implemented (within reason) in the design of the games?
Although I've listed a number of new ways to interact with a game, the designers and programmers at Nintendo deserve quite a bit of kudos, since it's all come in stride. It's not like they throw it all at you at once and let you flop around. It's given to you one bit at a time, with room for discovery and experimentation. Both systems have been truly a pleasure to experience and play with.
What impact does this have to you? Possibly not much, but for those of you who impact/influence interaction design, there are two good learning points from these simple video games:
- Don't overwhelm your users with too much new all at once. Nintendo eased all Wii owners by giving them their killer app - Wii Sports. Little did we all realize they were just getting us used to all the new ways to interact with the system.
- Don't spell out every little detail to your users. Leave a bit for them to discover on their own. In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for Nintendo DS the game designers introduce new tools for Link to utilize throughout the game. One of the most impressive tools can be used in at least 5 different ways.
Again, I'm not an expert on any of this, but keeping these things in mind as I move forward will be essential to improving the human experience on tools I develop.