Design Element
Comment on "Nintendo's Big Idea is Not the Wiimote"
by Bill Coleman — Oct 27
Two comments:

1) I remember an article a while back (I think it was in Discover magazine) talking about the human factors issues with game development. If you make a game too difficult, people will get frustrated trying to play and give up. If you make a game too easy, people will get bored and quit playing. It's sort of a human factors "coffin corner" that doesn't exist for other types of applications.

This makes creating a (good) game much more difficult that ordinary software. You've got to get just the right amount of difficulty or you lose your audience. It's even harder when your audience varies from 12-20-somethings who play 10+ hours a week and have super-twitchy thumbs to the weekend gamer.

2) Early in my carreer at the Hayes Corportion (a long-defunct modem maker), I ran across the dilemma of automatic operations. When things worked automatically -- customers loved it. However, when they stopped working, there was usually almost no way to diagnose the problem. Mainly because it is just supposed to work.

My wife recently ran into this issue when she upgrade last years version of iMovie HD (I know, we're a year behind). She had some old iMovie projects she wanted to edit. The documentation says you just open them -- but these projects just wouldn't open! Extremely frustrating.

The rule for automatic operations then, is that they must be either iron-clad robust, or they must be completely self-diagnostic to the user. Anything less invites unhappy customers.
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