The Ikea Effect and Interaction Design

I read an interesting article outlining the Ikea Effect on people, and I got to thinking about video games naturally.

The article talks about the investment of time, and how that proportionally increases the amount of care and commitment that you have for a particular product. The amount of time you spend in an Ikea show room picking the shades of colour for your new furniture, then going and picking it up, carrying it home and later assembling it requires quite the commitment. I remember when we bought a coffee table here and the Ikea was so far away from home, and we had to take a tram, and two busses to get home, and despite our tiredness from a full day we proceeded to assemble that piece of furniture because of our investment. Furthermore, we tend to keep that piece of furniture for a longer period of time because of our initial investment.

Nike started doing the customization thing with shoes, I remember friends of mine with perfectly good shoes and several pairs of such good shoes going out and customizing and buying new Nike ID pairs. The only reason they cited was the fact that they got to make it how they wanted it to be.

Now lets apply this idea of investment to interaction design. Let’s take a simple example of investment in games, Halo Reach has investment in the form of commendation progress, armour progress, and completion progress, along with the various rewards that you receive. This allows the player avenues to invest their time and effort and they can share their information online, and their investment yields different types of rewards.

What if we allowed the player to do the same with their interaction experience. What if they got to shape their experience right from the moment they put the disc into the console. I haven’t thought about the technical limitations of doing this, but lets imagine this was possible, what would result?

I believe that the player will have a product that is truly and fully theirs their ability to move pieces around and design an interface that suits them. It reminds me a little of geckoboard, where a user can set up within limitations the way that they want to view their business statistics. From emails to tweets to server data and the list goes on. Perhaps enabling the user to connect their social life into the game. I don’t mean just facebook or twitter, I mean their entire digital social experience, their instant messaging, emails etc. Allowing the users to share their experience with the game in a way that they see fit, and tailoring their game interface and interactions to something that works for them. Furthermore connecting their social experiences and making that a part of the game would result in players continuing to use the game long after its life cycle. Think of the possibilities.

In the mean time, we can just hope and dream.

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