Saturday, February 11, 2012

How Are You With Your Controls?

Habituation means you know the buttons so well
that you don't have to think about them.
You can fully enjoy the game.
Just the other day I was listening to a couple of boys arguing about how they could “totally annihilate” each other on Black Ops. They were getting really worked up.

So, attempting to defuse the situation, I piped in, “Yeah, but all you’re doing is pushing little buttons on a controller.”

Everyone knows that game prowess is just a matter of mastering the controls so you can play the game well. At the end of the day, you’re no greater a person for having played the game. It’s just about buttons. Right?

My comment didn’t even register in their brains.

The boys were ACTUALLY CONVINCED that the game was not about their skill with the controller.

Rather, it was all about their virtual character’s skill and prowess.

They were projecting themselves into the virtual world of their game character. They knew that in the real world they were no one special, “but in Black Ops I can kick your butt!”

And the strange thing was, they all believed it mattered.

I suck at video games. When I pick up the controller, everyone knows that it’s me who put the X in Xbox.
But for skilled gamers, their fingers pump and caress the buttons like the controller was part of their body. They don’t even think about it. It’s invisible.

According to Jef Raskin, author of “The Humane Interface,” this is called habituation. Habituation is when the contoller’s use becomes automatic and you can release all your attention to the task you are trying to achieve.

As you move from one level to the next and learn what’s coming in the game, the only limitation is how fast and coordinated you are at working the controller.

And you have to be really good with the buttons and position stick. Really, really good.

My social connections on the internet are my new controller.

The game is my real-life connection to people via the internet. It is the sum of my daily presentation of myself and my offerings to people in my sphere. For me to excel at this, I need to get to know all the buttons on my controller.

There are lots of social platform "buttons," and sometimes I feel like I suck at using them.

Some day soon, I’ll be given a new and better controller to help me do this. It will be a software solution or environment that manages all my personal connections for business and pleasure.

But until that day, I’ve got to try to work with the controls I have, and use them well.

Here are SOME of the control buttons I’m using to relate to people through my computer today:

It’s crazy that I have to present myself across these different platforms.

It’s like trying to play a video game with a poorly designed controller. It makes it really hard to enjoy the game.

Anyone else feel the same?