Digital Media

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Interaction Design

A few years ago, when I had more free time than I do today, I tried playing The Sims on my computer. As many of you probably already know, The Sims allows you to create characters and build houses and then command them to act in certain ways. The results attempt to simulate life and the consequences that come with actions. I became addicted to the game for a time and now try to stay away from it unless I really have a lot of time to kill. In "Information Interaction Design: A Unified Field Theory of Design," Nathan Shedroff says that "Creative products and experiences require that others participate by creating or manipulating instead of merely watching and consuming." I think one of the reasons The Sims was so successful, and why similar products have been successful, is because of the creativity and exploration that can go into the game. What will the Sims do if I put two toilets in the bathroom? (just makes two toilets you have to clean later) What happens if Sims doesn't go to work? (They lose their jobs) What happens if the Sims kiss a lot? (They have a baby and get really tired!)

The game relies on good design to make it easy for people with no construction or design experience to build a house to their own specifications. The adaptive nature of the game, I think, is what makes the game so enjoyable to play. People can do as much or as little as they want with the interactivity components of the game. They can design a whole neighborhood or use the houses that have already been built. They can design new Sims or play with preprogrammed Sims. Time goes as fast or as slow as you want it to. In my experience Shedroff's assertion that the best interactivity involves high levels ofcontrol, feedback and adaptivity is very accurate.


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