By Jess Fasano
On Friday, March 1, around 50 people sat throughout Mayo Concert Hall to hear Warren Buckleitner present his lecture, “Making Digital Magic-Exploring the Underlying Psychology of Successful Interactive Media Design.”
Students possibly hoping to design the next Super Smash Bros or Angry Birds eagerly listened as Buckleitner discussed why certain apps, sites and video games turn into train wrecks, while others turn into classics.
“We’re here to talk about how to make you really, really rich … just one of you. I don’t know which one of you it’s going to be, but one of you will be,” Buckleitner said.
Buckleitner, who taught fourth grade and also had a career reviewing children’s products, let the audience in on the secret of understanding the play patterns of children in order to design good apps and video games for them.
“Child development is like gravity, if you understand child development you have a better chance of getting into space,” Buckleitner said. He brought in examples of digital media devices, from a floppy disk to an ipad.
He held the ipad up to the crowd and spoke about how with this technology we “can control digital multimedia with one finger.”
Buckleitner also projected a series of interesting slides, images and videos onto a giant screen set up on the stage in front of the audience which grabbed and held their attention.
On one of the slides displayed a quote by Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho, which said, “An idea can turn from dust to magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.”
Buckleitner explained that it is important to understand what doesn’t work and that will help you create something successful, or “magic.” He then talked about the idea behind certain games and why they do work.
Using the game Angry Birds as an example, he explained that the idea of this game is the same one casinos use to keep you hooked to slot machines. “They are conditioning you people,” Buckleitner said of the game.
Buckleitner gave the audience the keys to creating successful children’s video or computer games, stating that the ideal interface of a game is one that gives the child an instant response.
Also, good attention to the details of the game will go a long way. “Craftsmanship will never go out of style,” Buckleitner said.
He stated how games should be created to benefit children and be tailored to what motivates and influences them. He found through a study he performed that less instructions will keep kids more engaged. He also explained that the “wait time” after asking a question will determine the quality of the answer.
Buckleitner’s way of thinking was influenced by Mary Budd Rowe, a science education innovator.
Rowe found that the longer a teacher waited after asking a question, the better the quality was of the answer the student gave.
Buckleitner said the same concept applies when writing instructions or asking questions in children’s games.
Concluding his lecture, Buckleitner had some parting words for the audience.
“I wish that you all find magic in whatever endeavors you pursue, and that you all die young at a very old age,” Buckleitner said.