User vs Player experiences

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I’ve been using the term user and player interchangeably in my A to Z of gamification series. But now we’re finally at U, let’s take a look at the differences between the user and player experience.

From Nicole Lazzaro’s chapter in the book “Game Usability“, here are the 7 differences she draws out between user experience (UX) and player experience (PX) goals and characteristics.

user vs player experience

Sebastian Deterding, User Experience Designer & Researcher depicts in his presentation on What UX can (and cannot) learn from games, an inherent conflict at the heart of the design of a user vs player experience.

User Player Conflict of Interest

Source: Slideshare “Just Add Points”

The whole point of games is to create intense emotions, and to prolong their experience as much as possible. By contrast, productivity software is all about getting your work done as efficiently and quickly as possible. How you feel is at best a secondary consideration.

Or if there is an emotional focus in user experience, it prioritises the avoidance of ‘frustration’ or even ‘anger’ in the user through poor design getting in the way of them achieving their goal. In contrast a ‘fun’ game experience, might deliberately seek to cause just enough frustration in the player for them to feel the sweet satisfaction when we finally do win.

Some argue that this isn’t a separate design discipline to user experience design at all. Usability design might be about removing the friction, but there has always been an element of psychology that looks to motivate the user to engage with a product or site more deeply. Fun is just one of those elements.

Source: UX Stack Exchange Question – Is “having fun” a quality of User Experience?

How fun, rewarding, or satisfying an experience is, can have a huge impact on the engagement and ultimate success of a site. Engaged users are far more likely to overlook friction and keep participating. Fun increases user motivation. (Reply from peteropeter)

Those in the field of gamification may not need to create new definitions or approaches to design experiences. Instead, I believe, the greater challenge ahead is how to marry up and deliver up an experience placed squarely between what a user might need to get the job done and what a player demands to make it worthwhile.

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