In her article, “Flow, Mastery and Ease-of-Use,” Christina Wodtke discusses gamification trends in web design. I would submit that this is nothing new. Video games have been around for decades, longer than the Internet, in fact; the incorporation of game mechanics into websites has perhaps seen a resurgence thanks to the App Games craze, but the term “gamification” reeks of bumper-sticker mentality, simultaneously oversimplifying instinctual incentive/reward behaviors and claiming them as some kind of recent revelation.
We are wired to really like incentives. We also really like video games. Video games offer incentives. Badges, ratings and point systems can be magnetic enhancements to websites, though the usefulness of such systems would depend on context.
Heads-Up User Experience Design
Whether or not we’re in the context of a website or web application in which such systems would be useful, such as a membership-driven, e-commerce, or community site, the [tweetherder]Heads-Up Display (HUD) might be a workable solution to the primary usability challenge[/tweetherder], which is to provide the user instant access to up-to-date contextual information. If it works for First-Person Shooters, which, let’s face it, simulate the most extreme life-or-death scenarios imaginable, why in the world would it not work for virtually any website or web application?
Heads-Up vs. Heads-Down
According to this study conducted in 2004:
Using the HUD caused less mental stress for the drivers than the HDD and was easier for first-time users to become familiar with.
Note that this research involved drivers operating commercial vehicles in Taiwan. There’s also the billion dollar fighter jet use case.
Or maybe we should not treat our consumers with this level of urgency. Ignore at your own risk.