"Amy Jo Kim is a game/social/web designer known for bridging the divide between game and web design. She has designed software UIs, games, online communities, and wrote the seminal book Community Building for the Web way back in 2000. I have long admired her work, and I am grateful that she recently sat down for an interview on the basics of game mechanics and how they can be used in interaction design.
You have a background in software interface design. How did you end up doing game design?
I have an eclectic background in neuroscience, computer science, and psychology. After earning my Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience, I worked at Sun Microsystems as a software engineer and UI designer. I then joined Paramount/Viacom as a Producer/Designer, working with brands like Star Trek, Nickelodeon and MTV. That’s where I got my first game design gig — prototyping a multi-player online music game for MTV (an early precursor to Rock Band, which I later had the pleasure of working on).
In 1995, I left Viacom and launched a consulting business (Shufflebrain) focused on “social architecture for online environments.” I worked with Web communities, online gaming environments, virtual worlds, and MMOs - designing social systems, game mechanics, and UI. I found that game design and community design had a lot in common - so I wrote a book callled “Community Building on the Web” to share lessons learned working at the intersection of gaming and social media. Since then, I’ve continued to design social architecture and gaming systems for companies like eBay, EA, There.com, Digital Chocolate, and Harmonix/MTV, to name a few.
What are game mechanics, and what is the primary value of thinking about game mechanics in interaction design?
Game mechanics are a collection of tools and systems that an interactive designer can use to make an experience more fun and compelling. Used well, game mechanics make a Web design more engaging, sticky and viral by incentivizing certain behaviors. However, game mechanics are not a panacea: to be effective, the mechanics need to be integral to the experience.
What are the primary principles in gaming that might be useful to interaction designers?
These core mechanics are a good place to start (collecting, points, feedback, exchange, and customization). Here are two slideshows that are solid introductions to them:" (Continued via Bokardo) [Usability Resources]