Gamification is at the heart of modern technology, from education to finance and, not surprisingly, web design as well. But in the area of web design, it’s not just the fact that gamification supplies a high level of engagement for users that makes it so appealing.
It’s also about how the games inspire us.
Websites Become Human
AI is supposed to make websites more human. But if web designers want to see technology that’s truly in touch with its human side, they should take a good look at Detroit Becomes Human, forthcoming from David Cage at Quantic Dream.
What makes this program so unusual among video games is that, aesthetically, it’s closer to a movie than a video game. The human forms are remarkably realistic and are rendered in real time. With the inclusion of plot and a strong emotional arc, Detroit Becomes Human has the potential to reach something deep within the player.
How does this apply to web design? When we think about effective, modern sites, the best are typically graphically complex — consider Gucci’s scroll-activated catalog, for example — but they also create an emotional connection.
This combination of high-quality graphics and innovative storytelling and psychological engagement makes users the hero of the story. Web designers ought to empower their users by helping them enter the site mentally, not just technically.
A word of caution to designers, though: When you build a site centered on animation and action, it’s easy to overlook such factors as crawlability; that is, the ability of search engines to assess your content. According to SEO consultant Aaron Rains, these sites require a full website audit to correct site layout issues and crawlability issues, and ensure image optimization and peak site speed.
Beautiful graphics aren’t worth much if no one can find your site or it requires three minutes to load.
A Design Parable
The Stanley Parable originally appeared in 2011, so it may not be the most compellingly visual game, but in terms of game premise and relevance, this one may be more appealing than ever. At its core, The Stanley Parable explores the idea that, within the decision-making paradigm, an independent person listens but a slave obeys.
Since video games hinge on decision-making, being able to place yourself within that paradigm is vital. An effective website is also contingent on decision-making. The more small decisions and tasks within a larger goal it provides, the more likely you are to encourage conversions.
When your website allows users to navigate on their own without directive actions, your visitors tend to bounce out quickly. Decision-making, even in the most minor sense, helps drive users through your site.
It’s the game play of navigation. Don’t allow users just to stay in one place.
Advances in video game storytelling are essential to how we think about websites. As gamification moves across widely varied fields, it will be especially effective to engage users on multiple fronts.
That’s because most people would rather play phone games, watch YouTube videos, or play the video games from which great websites draw their inspiration. So what’s driving your next site design?