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From the Design Desk: Designing for Experience

My friends and I play a lot of board games, ranging from super simple card games to the complicated games that can take several hours to play.  Tabletop gaming is enjoying a sort of renaissance, with indie game developers being able to use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to bring a wider variety of games than ever without the limitations of going through a major publisher.
One type of game that has seen a big rise in popularity is a category called “legacy” games.  These games are designed to be played in intervals over a long period of time, and unlike most games (even other long-format games) that start with a clean slate every time you open the box, legacy games are meant to be altered as you play – adding or removing components, altering the game board and continually evolving each time you sit down for a session.  You play the same character or roles throughout, and ideally, with the same players each time.  Pandemic Legacy, one of the best examples of this genre, is meant to be played monthly, where you track and try and manage worldwide disease epidemics over the course of a year.
As someone who loves games and is very careful about putting all the components neatly back into their box in a very organized fashion, the idea of a game board that’s meant to be written on and altered with stickers or decals is fascinating but a bit terrifying.  Instead of creating a slew of unnecessary components to facilitate the unique style of play, the game designers prioritized experience over replayability.
As designers, when we’re creating pieces for an event or designing a campaign, it’s very easy to get focused on the fine details.  We get hung up on the way a piece looks, or in the minutiae of copy, message and content.  We forget sometimes to consider the overall experience of a piece, whether it’s a simple postcard mailing or an invitation package.  When you are designing for experiences rather than information, there are three major facets to consider:
  • Visual Experience – The way a piece looks is the easiest to focus on, but creative use of imagery, color and text can turn a boring piece into something much more impactful.
  • Tactile Experience – Paper and finish can vastly alter the look of a finished piece.  Consider straying away from the basics for specialty papers like metallic or linen, or adding a custom diecut, laminate or foil layer.
  • Emotional Experience – A good design campaign might look polished and professional, but a great campaign will also illicit an emotional response.  Whether you’re looking to generate leads at a trade show or conference, or simply advertise your business, consider the message you’re presenting and make sure you’re hitting all the points you need to get the maximum return.
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