If you’re involved in creating a user or customer experience, you should be playing videogames. Seriously. At least enough to have some fluency about what games can do.

Think about it: playing a game is totally optional, with no real-world outcomes hanging in the balance. Thus games are an especially pure expression of experience design.

The only reason people are going to play, and keep playing, a game is if the experience is good. Or as Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, said in 2006, “Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun.” (Iwata passed away last week – read his NYT obituary.)

Thus if you study successful games, you should be able to glean some insight into the design of good, effective experiences.

At my Gel 2015 conference a few months ago, I invited two speakers to explore this idea – of learning about good experience from the example of good games. Even if you don’t play games (and you should!), you can learn a lot from these two talks about creating good experiences.

andy-baio-gel20151. Andy Baio, writer, host of XOXO
To share his love of videogames with his son, Andy Baio conducted a remarkable experiment: he encouraged his son to play several decades’ worth of videogames… in the order that they were released. In his Gel talk, Baio describes why he ran the experiment, what games his son played, and what they learned along the way.


paul-murphy-gel20152. Paul Murphy, CEO, Dots
They’re doing something right at Dots. Paul’s New York-based game studio has released just two iPhone games – Dots and Two Dots – both of which have enjoyed wide popularity. In his Gel talk, Paul discusses what inspires the experience design at Dots, and how other teams can be similarly inspired.


As for what games you should play, one good resource is this good iOS games list (reminiscent of my old Good Experience Games list, but actually up-to-date). I particularly recommend Osmos, Tiny Wings, and Dungeon Raid.

P.S.: I’ll post separately, but Creative Good is working on our own iPhone game: Brooklyn 1776, an iPhone game that will allow you to play through the Battle of Brooklyn – a crucial early battle in the American revolution. Read more about Brooklyn 1776 here.

Watch the Gel 2015 videos:

Video of Andy Baio, writer, entrepreneur, host of XOXO

Video of Paul Murphy, CEO, Dots