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The Mechanics of Magic: 7 Game Design Insights

The web world is agog over game design as the next silver bullet, slapping badges and progress bars over every annoying thing they wish users to do. As users tire of everything looking like a game, "gamification" has come under fire. But why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Game design is to web design what rocket science is to car mechanics, and just like Tang and Velcro, there is plenty in game design we can use in our every day work. Come and hear how mastery, irregular reward schedules and meaningful choices can make your site a pleasure for your users.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Game designers constantly ask "is it fun yet?" What does that mean outside a game context, and how do you find your project's key question that keeps you and the team honest and focused?
  2. Game designers often use Player Types and Play Style rather than personas; how can this approach transform how you make product decisions?
  3. Mastery and Flow are vital to a game's fun; what is your user's journey and how do you help your users have a sense of mastery and accomplishment (and should you bother)?
  4. Know your mechanics. What are game mechanics, how do they apply in a non-game context and more importantly: are you using them to manipulate users or to create satisfying experiences?
  5. Most web designers talk about designing for delight and avoiding user frustration, while game designers have an entire box of emotional crayons to design for, from agony to hope to desperation to curiosity.... How can task-driven apps embrace design for negative and positive emotions?



Christina Wodtke, Publisher, Boxes and Arrows

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