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March 28, 2007



If Amazon told me I did a Good Job finding my book, I would kick it in the nuts.


Schmitt: your comment tells us more about you that it does about ideas on interaction design at Amazon...



I'm with Schmitt. That's patronizing.


I think Raph's point was, if Amazon rewarded you for achieving something, how different would the experience be... (answer: different!)

You're taking the wording a little too literally, I think.


I have no clue how you manage to transcribe stuff this dense, but perhaps that's down to my density. Good stuff.

It struck me right at the start that Raph's point about the nature of games - see a pattern, poke it, learn how it works - is exactly what I'd been hoping someone would say about stories at GDC, SXSW, etc.

Stories work the same way, except you have to watch someone else do the poking (that'd be the protagonist in the story and, yes, in certain kinds of stories the poking would be literal as well as figurative).

Surely that should mean there's a better natural fit between games and stories than people assume, beyond the old linear vs. emergent debate?

The pattern in a story is the theme. A story's theme might be 'crime does not pay'. Now stick that theme into a game. Suddenly, the story isn't about plot points a, b and c. Instead, it's a pattern the player has to uncover.

Give the player a Grand Theft Auto-esque sandpit. Give them an inciting action - get $1million to some gangsters before sunset or you're dead. How the player goes about achieving that is up to them, but they are constrained by the story, which stipulates that 'crime does not pay'.

Every time they attempt to get the money by criminal action, sooner or later, things go wrong. Only when they find a legal option do things go right. For a cinematic analogy, see 'Run, Lola, Run'.

It's still Skinner's pigeon figuring out that pecking the lever is a behaviour pattern that will cause food to drop down that chute, only it's metaphorical, rather than mechanical. Story is just a metaphor and a metaphor is just a way of expressing a pattern. The power of story isn't about saying 'crime doesn't pay', it's about illustrating what that means.

A game is potentially far more effective at illustrating this meaning than a book or a film, because those media force you to identify with the choices someone else makes in order to learn the pattern. In a game, you get to make the choices for yourself.

Sorry, rant over. Maybe next year someone will talk on this at GDC and then I won't feel compelled to write these off-topic comments.

Prokofy Neva

I can't believe Raph has fallen for all this Chomsky stuff. Yeesh.

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