The Game Design of Everyday Things

13 May 2011 | 0 comments

Happ button

I’m writing a new regular column for the Kill Screen website.

It’s called The Game Design of Everyday Things, and is about the ways that the ways we interact with objects, spaces, and activities in the everyday world can inform the way we design games.

Which is, you know, a big topic, but one that pretty much encompasses lots of my interests and work to date: games, interaction design, urban spaces, the everyday. I’m looking forward to what’s going to be coming next over the coming weeks and months.

I’ve started by looking at that fundamental of electronic games: buttons.

Every morning, I push the STOP button on the handrail of a number 63 bus. It tells the driver I want to get off at the next stop.

I’m very fond of the button. It immediately radiates robustness: chunky yellow plastic on the red handrail. The command, STOP, is written in white capitals on red. There’s a depression to place my thumb into, with the raised pips of a Braille letter “S” to emphasize its intent for the partially sighted. When pushed, the button gives a quarter-inch of travel before stopping, with no trace of springiness; a dull mechanical ting rings out, and the driver pulls over at the next stop.

It’s immediately clear what to do with this button, and what the outcome of pushing it will be. It makes its usage and intent obvious.

This is a good button.

You can read “Buttons” over at Kill Screen.

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