Games & Play

The Mechanics of Magic: Seven Lessons from Game Design is a talk on on applying game design to ordinary products to make them more engaging and compelling.

45 minute version, given at UXLX

90 minute workshop, filmed and edited by Esha Gupta

One does not simply add game mechanics to UX.

See also, a version given at the Family, an incubator in Paris.


Here are all the references for my popular “Mechanics of Magic” talk

Here were the Seven Lessons I covered

  1. Find your North Star
  2. Design for Emotion
  3. Use Player Types
  4. Loop de Loop
  5. .Know Your Mechanics
  6. Art from the Start
  7. Learn to Teach
  8. Test MOAR

I’m not so good at counting.

And below is what informed them:

Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube Playlist are both of these are living resources, i.e. I’ll keep adding as I find stuff.

People to follow on Twitter. Includes designers, conferences and critics.

Youtube Game Design Playlist. These are only the ones I thought were particularly helpful/inspiring.
If you are lazy, or want to recreate the talk for the folks back home

  • Brenda, blowing your mind on the power of games 4:30-7:20 (I know! I’ts only a 20 minute ted talk!
  • Sid, on playtesting lessons 18:40-23:53
  • Will, showing you how much you can do with so very little 30:27-33-27. However it is well worth the entire 2 hours
  • and something you should watch anyhow, though I didn’t show it: Stuart Brown on Play
  • Great GCDC talk on the art of invisible tutorials, By George Fan of Plants vs Zombies

Articles I found useful that I could pin (if there is no image, it’s unpinnable. fail!). I’ll keep pinning. This is collection of good, if not really important articles.. more ones that made me think better about design of games.

Buy Jesse Schell’s Art of Game Design. DO IT!

I already said I own it in paper, kindle and the deck of cards.
The cards I use when I’m uninspired. Pull a card, get an idea! The book is the best book on design (IMO) for any design game or otherwise. It’s the biggest box of crayons.

Here is a list of better words from The Center for NonViolence for finding inspiration beyond the tired out “delight” and the boring old “frustration.”

Please also buy Nonviolent Communication. It changed my life profoundly. In ways beyond design.

Peoples whose wisdom informed my talk. Some I interviewed, some I watched on Youtube, some I badgered insistently on Facebook/email/twitter and over lunches and coffees. Can you name them all? (Click through for answers)


My article on Flow, Mastery and Ease of use and blog posts, Find Your North Star and Working the Canvas, Reworking our Process both inspired by Game Design (more to come!)

Finally the game made by a self-professed non-game-designer who made a game that really helps designers with their people skills: Surviving Design Projects. If he can change lives with a game, maybe you can too…


Games Worth Playing

Interactive Fiction


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