Interaction Design Theory

- ‎Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Ever work with someone and they ask you to design something ‘fun’? First off, I love designing fun experiences, but then again, I’ve never been asked to design a painful experience - 90s era web pages not withstanding. Today, when presented with that challenge, my first response is always, “help me understand what you mean by fun”. The responses can vary between, “fun = X, Y & Z through design that addresses, 1,2 & 3” and “fun is something that you just know… you know it when you see it.” One our Supreme Court Justices used that last arguement in the 60s, so consistency is nice I guess. The trouble is, people have very different ideas of what constitutes fun. Once you understand their version of fun, understanding why it's fun and how it can be relevant is the next challenge. 

Recently, when tasked to design a financial health application for financial client, I wanted to look deeper into the theory behind what makes something fun. App stores are filled “better life” type apps, but few of them ever remain engaging beyond a couple months. I referenced a few of these apps for great examples of specific best practices, but I couldn’t manage to find an app as compelling as a games I’ve played for months and sometimes years on end. Instead of diving deeper into building a better version of existing habit and lifestyle apps, I wanted to draw more inspiration from game design. That’s when I was reminded of this article.

I’ve attached it here, and the highlights are mine

Below, you'll find the book in its entirety.