Building Strong Interactive Kung Fu

After being exposed to user experience, interaction design fundamentals, and advanced HCI (Human Computer Interaction) techniques, students round out the program learning a range of interactive moves that would intimidate the likes of Mr. Miyagi.

The world is now looking at experiences through different lenses; which make up two layers of an experience. No we are not reinventing Jesse James Garrett’s five-layer model of interactive experiences. Rather, we are determining how they influence layers of system and social interaction.

The Gamification of Life is a master class in providing rewarding experiences based on understanding game play systems, and storytelling. The course builds on a core philosophy of user-centered design in which students are trained to conceptualize experiences as reward based systems that understand compulsions, progression models and dynamic feedback states.

The core of the course is what I’ve coined ‘compulsive branding.’ Understanding that brands must go deeper into understanding the psychological locks and keys that compel users to reach a specific meaning (branded state.) A strong brand can make you feel like an athlete; compulsive branding looks at understanding specifically why someone wants to be an athlete and provides them activities and experiences to fulfill that fantasy.

As students near graduation, they already hold black belts in creating core experiences and developing controlling ideas. In the past, we viewed experiences as utilities or entertainment but now our goal is to expose users to more immersive social interactions.

Students learn early on in the program to apply brand principles, big ideas, user experience strategies, storytelling and interactive principles to craft world-class experiences. They know how to strategize and execute a project that leverages their skills in information architecture, intuitive interaction design, and the visual presentation of information. These are layers that surround and support the core. They require a deeper understanding of the social and interaction strata and consider user compulsions and reward them accordingly based on their expectations.

It is a powerful trend that has been called many things; ‘the game layers on top of the world,’ ‘the gamification of life,’ ‘interactive edutainment,’ plus many more. The terminology may be different, but the design thinking is the same. It is a world where gaming, user experience and interactive design are merging.

Graduates leave the course understanding how to improve tiered loyalty programs, how to influence social behaviours outside a core experience and how to create more rewarding interactive experiences by designing for personas and gamer types. They are equipped with wide range of interactive arts; ready to either build a Chuck Norris theme park or take on the interactive octagon.

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