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When you build digital stuff all day, you develop opinions. Lots of opinions.


Digital Trends

Slicing the Pineapple. Luke Muscat is a game designer with an amazing sense for the qualities that make simple games engaging. As the designer of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, Luke has learned to use the kinetic impact of gameplay to engage casual gamers. Small tricks like having the screen flash briefly when the sword makes contact with the fruit, create a visceral sense of impact. Jetpack Joyride freezes the game for a split second when the character dies. This creates a break in the gameplay and allows the gamer to assess why they died better than just an abrupt end. The point, as always, is to make the game stickier – more fun to play so people spend more time in the game world. Application to Marketing:User experience design in marketing and business neglects kinetic feedback for users. This suggests to the user that they are operating in a world without friction, inertia or gravity. This is a low stakes and low engagement type of environment. In general, marketing needs to look to the gaming world for more than just cheap tactics of “gamification.” Game designers are way ahead in terms of digital environments. Availability: Some marketers are experimenting with more innovative flow and movement in their digital environments. But most still default to the device-standard behaviors. Read More Death of the Smartphone Reading a recent Re/code article on how smartphones are ceasing to be phones and becoming mobile computing devices (see article below), my initial thought was that this was a load of argle-bargle. Then I picked up my much-abused HTC Android phone (Old School!) and decided to check on my phone usage. Turns out, I don’t call people all that much. Apart from a few brief calls to my wife to coordinate child care, I was barely using the phone. What was I doing? Texts (a lot). Email (frequent). And Hipchat (non-stop). But more than communication, I am on my phone endlessly to read the news, read books on the Kindle app, listen to books on the Audible app and check for weather and directions. The only feature on my phone I’d be willing to sacrifice given a choice? The phone. Application to Marketing:You don’t need me to tell me that all your digital assets should work on mobile. But I think there’s a larger question for marketers about declining phone usage. Your younger customers don’t want to talk to you. So it’s worth looking at your entire conversion funnel and try to eliminate moments where you either require or encourage a phone call. Availability: I think this ship has sailed. It’s not a phone. It’s your computer. Read More Deflating the VR Enthusiasm Bubble Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited about Virtual Reality technology. But the current irrational exuberance around VR seems to be ignoring real and pervasive problems with the current hardware. In the review (below) for the Alegiant Glyph, a kind of personal TV that looks like headphones tipped down over your eyes, we encounter the same issues. Namely, that DLP arrays are interesting but buggy. Turns out that projecting light with mirrors into a person’s eyes does save some weight and room (no screens), but it also leads to jumpiness and ghosting for some individuals. Also, there’s the nausea problem. People watch screens or play games for hours at a time. Yet, half an hour of VR or VR-like technologies seems to give people a bad case of the pukes. Application to Marketing: By all means, get on board with VR. But play to its strengths and away from its weaknesses. Short-duration interactions (like virtually touring a property) are good, long-duration interactions (like watching a movie) are bad. Also, it’s worth remembering that the current generation of screens are very good and that you will sacrifice performance and resolution. I don’t want to burst the bubble. Just get people thinking about this technology realistically. Availability: As I’ve said before, you need to own one of these devices in order to understand how to best use it. I’m partial to the Oculus Rift, but there are lots of great options. Read More Economic Benefit of Brain Implants Lots of people are talking about the government’s request that Apple hack the iPhone of the San Bernardino attackers in order to provide them with information. One side says this is a privacy issue. The other says this is about security in an age of terrorism. Sorry, but that’s all irrelevant. Our economy is increasingly dependent on our shared love for our smartphones. These little devices have become extensions of ourselves; the closest thing we have to cybernetic implants to provide us with a constant stream of information and potential connection. If the government insists that these extensions of our identities are fair game, then consumers will learn to be less open and less dependent on these devices. The economic consequences of breaking our tie to our phones could be bad. Application to Marketing: I’m aware that talking about a phone like a brain implant is not going to be popular with everyone. But it does reflect the way they are used today. When you think about the mobile experience you provide to your customer, realize you are doing the equivalent of hacking into their heads. This isn’t a screen across the room or a billboard on their commute, this is a little piece of them. That’s an amazingly powerful tool for marketing and not something we want the NSA messing around with. My two cents. Availability: A judge ruled in favor of Apple. The government will appeal. And appeal. And appeal. This issue won’t go away on its own. Read More

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