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Accentuate the Negative

29th May 13

I spent a wonderfully stimulating day at Kill Screen Magazine’s Two5Six conference recently – a chance to listen to some smart thinkers and practitioners from the independent games scene talk about their ideas, their projects and the wider gaming & cultural landscape.

Game folk and advertising folk have much in common; their powerful interest in user/consumer motivation; the importance of design as a tool of differentiation; a shared vocabulary around community management, UX and behavioural economics; a belief that ‘problem solving’ lies at the heart of what they do.

But an exchange at two5six did force me to consider whether there were also some fundamental differences between us – maybe even a wholly different world-view.

I was telling the game designer next to me about my son who, aged nine, spends quite a bit of time designing and playing games on his computer. While the Labs Dad in me is keen to nurture this, I did twitch when I saw this post on his tumblr.

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 10.23.44

Two minutes after describing this common modern family issue, I saw a twitter @ message.

This struck me as a wonderfully elegant solution to ‘a problem’, and a solution that is most unlikely to have come from an advertising mind. Our instinct is to hamile porno accentuate the positive and sell the benefit. We’d have looked for an emotional product demonstration, the product being a beautiful spring day. We might have tried inventing a new game that could only be played outdoors. We might have partnered with an ice-cream firm to exchange cones for game cartridges. But creating ‘more fail’ when the sun shines brightly? An idea that could only come from the delightfully twisted mind of a game developer.

There’s lots to learn from gamer types. They know UX, they know behavioural economics, they know problem solving. But most of all they understand failure in all its glory. Its power to motivate and drive behaviour. Its ability to throw into relief even the smallest triumphs. That overcoming a thousand tiny failures sometimes beats a single big win. That perhaps fail alone can get a young gamer out of the living room on a sunny day.

5 comments on “Accentuate the Negative”

  1. I do like twisted ideas ;) but I think in this instance I prefer something like the pedometer below, which gives children a healthier way to get what they want:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2010/jan/12/games-nintendo

  2. Thanks for coming and this is an awesome observation! Advertising and games do wrestle with the same communication issues.

    Cheers.

  3. avatar john dodds Said

    No, not only from the mind of a developer. The whole idea of opportunity cost is at the heart of this type of thinking. Microeconomics as creative inspiration – who’d have thought?

    I actually wrote a post years ago with the same title – mine was about how eliminating defects was the most obvious way to make an improved product/service or (in the case of the post) website. Negativity gets a bad rap.

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