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Software

Why Work Is Looking More Like a Video Game 138

james_bong666 writes "According to the New York Times, business software vendors can learn a great deal from how video games are designed. This makes a lot of sense — how many professionals like working with their software in the office as much as gaming after hours? Developers can deal with looking at tables and grids full of data to make decisions and get things done, but other types of workers (executives, salespeople, etc.) have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words, i.e. their software designed completely differently."
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Why Work Is Looking More Like a Video Game

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  • work / play (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:36AM (#19198523)
    Actually videogames are becoming more like work than being a diversion where a person can blow off steam. Have you played GTA: San Andreas? All those mini button pushing games just to get the character up to snuff to complete a quest. Don't get me started on Harvest Moon. Pokemon with its breeding, hatching eggs, growing berries and other nonsense. Games don't reward the player for their skill or talent at completing a level or pulling off a stunt. Nowadays games simply add hours to their playtime by adding hours and hours of pointless grinding to unlock something really stupid.
    By the way, I don't care how much someone loves their job. Anyone who stays after-hours and plays games or just hangs out is sad.
  • Uh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ewhenn ( 647989 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:37AM (#19198533)
    Actually it's not the interface that makes the game fun... There are some games that have great interfaces - that I personally do not find fun to play (CIV, WoW), etc. I also disagree with this statment: "other types of workers (executives, salespeople, etc.) have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words" I fail to see how employment position is a realisic and valid way to determine attention span.
    • Re:Uh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erareno ( 1103509 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:52AM (#19198649)
      I believe that executives (especially those that have worked their way to the top) would not have a very short attention span. To the contrary, they can see the big picture and work their way towards their ultimate goal. However, I also believe that people who work would be much more productive if they felt they got some form of enjoyment out of what they're doing. Isn't that why Ben Franklin (I think) said something along the lines of 'The day you get a job that you really like is the day you get your last paycheck'?
      • Re:Uh. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:39AM (#19198933) Journal
        I agree. The blanket claim that only developers have long attention spans is ridiculous and insulting. I can't believe that the Slashdot article made this claim.

        Scientists, small business owners, executives, and even the person tending the grill at the burger joint have normal attention spans.

        Do not underestimate the difficulty and attention required of other people's work. I am now a lab manager of a memory development lab at a major university, but I've spent many years working at mini-markets, coffee shops, etc.

        Let me tell you. If you have 14 fraps, 5 iced lattes, 3 vanilla lattes, 4 hot mochas, and several ice teas to make in under 6 minutes, all the while greeting customers and making small talk, you damn well better pay attention, and concentrate.

        In such cases, you transcend the planning of one or two drinks, and start planning and attending to the situation at a larger scale. At that level, its Zen.

        • Re:Uh. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tickletaint ( 1088359 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @12:15PM (#19199129) Journal
          Exactly. Here's a hint to computer programmers: If the user's not getting what they need from your application, then you fucked up. It's your job to make your software usable. Stop blaming others for problems caused by your shitty UI design skills. Good Christ, I'm sick of the condescension I see coming every day from my fellow developers.
          • Re:Uh. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dodobh ( 65811 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @03:27PM (#19200613) Homepage
            Perhaps we need to stop requiring developers to design user interfaces and have UI specialists write that part of the code?

            Developers write fantastic User Interfaces. Also see Unix. Not quite what you mean? Find a specialist who specialises in UIs for non developers.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by asuffield ( 111848 )

            Exactly. Here's a hint to computer programmers: If the user's not getting what they need from your application, then you fucked up. It's your job to make your software usable. Stop blaming others for problems caused by your shitty UI design skills. Good Christ, I'm sick of the condescension I see coming every day from my fellow developers.

            But equally and in the opposite direction: if your staff can't use the system to get their work done, there is a good chance that you fucked up in hiring them. Stop blamin

            • most real-world problems with computer usage in the workplace are the result of idiotic hiring practices

              That's a bold statement to make. Care to back that up with numbers? I'm guessing this is based on your experience, and I'm guessing that you're a programmer. So I'm further guessing that the UIs you design suck. That's okay. Designing UIs should not be your job. Your job should be to write the backend. Stop doing UI. Get your company to hire somebody who has a clue about UI and knows how to run usabili

              • I'm guessing this is based on your experience

                Yes.

                I'm guessing that you're a programmer. So I'm further guessing that the UIs you design suck.

                No, I'm a sysadmin. I'm the guy that gets called in when a user can't figure out whether to click on 'Yes' or 'No' in the newly-purchased application. This puts me in a very good position to judge what the problem is, and the problem is usually users who are clearly unqualified to do the jobs they have been given.

                For example, if a user is trying to interact with a mous

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Executives, salespeople, etc., do INDEED have a short attention span, and the profession self-selects for it. People with any kind of focus would be bored to death just thinking about these kind of jobs - they'd rather be surgeons, pilots, engineers, etc. That leaves the unskilled and unclued to pick wearing a suit and tie and attending meetings for a living to fill the void.

      Really, if you picked any random suit out of an office and wrung the confession out of them, they'd admit that they knew they were wor
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by code_nerd ( 37853 )
        Spoken like someone who has no idea what an executive job is like. Just because you cannot get those jobs does not mean they do not require skill. Sure, there are crap managers, executives, etc. But there are even more crap programmers, sysadmins, dbas, and so on. Saying management self-selects for incompetence is nothing more than sour grapes and envy.

        Cry more.
    • I fail to see how employment position is a realisic and valid way to determine attention span.

      One could argue that personality types do affect what profession you will pursue. Although this is not 100% and there are many exceptions to this rule.

      And alternatively, you can argue that your profession could be affecting your personality on how you deal with your work.

      As a person who has to make constant and man decisions on an daily (if not hourly) basis, then you tend to prefer information that is as concise a
    • Sorry, but

      I fail to see
      does not actually prove your point. Without starting a whole discussion about whether it is possible or not to prove a negative, the most that this phrase means is that you are not convinced. It does not show that the other side is wrong in any way.
      • by ewhenn ( 647989 )
        True it doesn't prove my point, however the burden of proof is on the Slashdot article writer, not me. If they are going to make a statement such as:

        [i]"Developers can deal with looking at tables and grids full of data to make decisions and get things done, but other types of workers .... have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words"[/i]

        Then they need to prove it to me, not the other way around. I am not the one trying to force a fact, they are, I am merely calling them
        • very nice riposte
        • Yes, it's a monstrously ignorant AND arrogant statement. The writer condescends that anyone other than "developers" has depth of thought.

          Besides the comment above concerning the juggling of a large number of time-sensitive tasks, there are many, many different types of thought and operating environments.

          I've been a software developer, a salesmen and an executive. Each role has its own focus and its own "style" of thinking. Most developers can't sell because they can't properly communicate with people who ar
          • Did you really just criticize something and then defend it, all in the same post? You're apparently resentful of generalizing about executives and salespeople, and then you go and generalize about developers and technical people!
        • Actually, people who make general statements don't necessarily need to prove them. They may be stating their general observations. The "gut feeling" that they developed through the experience of being themselves. This does not prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt. But no one is on trial here. No one is fighting for their freedom to stay out of jail. These assertions are simply meant as suggestions to generate and prolong a discussion. It is quite ludicrous to demand that statements made during an

    • Which civ are you talking about? The interface in civilizations I and II as well as CtP is pure shit. If you don't remember the key combos, then you are well and rightly fucked. And they were buggy as well - for example in civ2 sometimes the keyboard controls in the city screens work, and sometimes you just get the popup saying that you need to close the city window to proceed. I feel the same way about Alpha Centauri, which is one of my favorite games ever. But the user interface is done in a start-menu st
  • Naked Objects (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eennaarbrak ( 1089393 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:38AM (#19198535)
    The guys at Naked Objects (http://www.nakedobjects.org/ [nakedobjects.org]) have been singing a similar tune for some time now. Not the part about making business more like games, but about using "open-ended" and proper object oriented software that allows user interaction similar to games. I think they even used The Incredible Machine as inspiration.
  • Reasoning that sales people are wildly competitive, he thought that they would respond to a program that showed where they stood against their goals -- or their peers'. Hence, Rave, which Entellium introduced in April.

    You could get even greater compliance if you showed their competitors getting blown up when an individual's sales figures are better than their co-workers. I mean, if you're going to make it like video game, go all the way!

    Next ad in, when your boss pisses you off, his likeness appears in a f

    • I have always thought email should be sent via a FPS game.
      If you manage to deliver the message to the recipients' office, they see the message.
      If you are eaten by a grue, well your stuffed basically.
      Best hope you can work as a team, your boss needs covering while he posts the wageslips.
      • I always dreamed of making a video game file manager. You would be like a little Super Mario type character, and if you needed to copy a file you would pick it up, walk to the destination directory, and drop it. There would also be enemies, and if they caught you while you carried your file, the file would be deleted. That would keep people on their toes for sure! I can't see how anyone could not like such a fun file manager.
  • by MichailS ( 923773 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:42AM (#19198571)
    You mean

    "Gaming is more like work nowadays"

    ?
  • by DAharon ( 937864 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:43AM (#19198581)

    but other types of workers (executives, salespeople, etc.) have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words
    I'm as prejudiced against non-programmers/techies as the next person, but that just jumped at me immediately as pretty damn condescending.
    • by volsung ( 378 ) <stan@mtrr.org> on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:15AM (#19198781)

      One thing that was drilled into us in an Engineering Communications class was to assume your audience (often management) was impatient, had limited reading comprehension, and generally ignorant of your subject matter. At the time we thought this was amusing, as we imagined the standard Dilbert stereotype of a manager.

      Looking back now, I see this was more of a mental exercise than a statement about our future bosses' intellectual abilities. Engineers tend to be detail-oriented, especially about their particular work. This is generally good, because details matter in implementation, but bad for communication if it clutters up the main points you are trying to convey. By telling engineers to write like their audience is stupid and lazy, you might end up with something that is almost understandable. :)

      In reality, your boss might not be an expert in the field, and they also have lots of information flying at them from all directions. Making prose simple and compact speeds comprehension for busy people. Unfortunately, people who are predisposed to have a negative attitude toward management (bad previous managers, overly large nerd egos, social insecurity, etc) just remember this advice as "Write simply because my boss is dumb."

      • by Jerf ( 17166 )

        assume your audience (often management) was impatient, had limited reading comprehension, and generally ignorant of your subject matter.... Looking back now, I see this was more of a mental exercise than a statement about our future bosses' intellectual abilities.

        It's more than that; it also means the presentation gracefully degrades when those things are true.

        Presentations are rarely the place for intensive detail; in those rare cases where they are (paper presentation at a conference, other such things),

    • Reminds me of the movie Idocracy:

      Society in the 2500's has become so stupid (due to the idiots breeding like crazy, and the intelligent people not getting any) that even doctors have been reduced to people who push large, user-friendly, multi-colored buttons with pictures of different ailments on them, and let a machine do the rest of the work.

      While I thought the movie exaggerated quite a bit, it did make me wonder about all of the simplification we are starting to integrate into a lot of our products. The
      • Now perhaps this is simply
        No "IF" about it, buddy. Any field of technology that does not become simpler for identical tasks on identical budgets is not advancing. Programming a Sudoku game today is easier than it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago -- and each of those were simpler than their decade previous.

        The idea that you aren't as smart if your interface is simple is a stupid one, and makes me want to take away the spedometer in your car to illustrate the point.
        • Take away his phonetic alphabet too while you're at it, make him use cuneiform or heiroglyphics.
          Although your Sudoku example is a bad one because Sudoku didn't exist ten years ago. Say Gomoku or something.
          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudoku#History [wikipedia.org]

            "According to Will Shortz, the modern Sudoku was most likely designed anonymously by Howard Garns, a 74-year-old retired architect and freelance puzzle constructor, and first published in 1979 by Dell Magazines as Number Place."

            And reading the page, the concept goes back much further. Sudoku's just the name - programming a Sudoku-styled game (a Number Place generator, say) would've been harder 10 years ago, but the game certainly existed. The example stands fine.
            • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )

              And reading the page, the concept goes back much further. Sudoku's just the name - programming a Sudoku-styled game (a Number Place generator, say) would've been harder 10 years ago, but the game certainly existed.

              I wouldn't agree - I've built magic-square solvers ~10 years ago (possibly a bit longer - and that also included writing a QBasic program that writes these magic-square solvers for those puzzles that aren't square shaped).

              Based on the quality of the most common flash-based sudoku puzzles (as well

        • The idea that you aren't as smart if your interface is simple is a stupid one, and makes me want to take away the spedometer in your car to illustrate the point.

          You're absolutely right. I'll concede that simpler interfaces aren't always less powerful than complex ones. The dashboard on my car typically tells me nothing more than what I need to get from point-A to point-B without running out of gas or getting arrested. Isolating the user from internal complexities has to be pretty high up there on the list of reasons to have a simple interface. Hell, it may be one of the only reasons. Really what this is ultimately about from my perspective is general human lazine

          • Our world continues to become more and more complex, and our collective knowledge has extended far beyond what a single person can master. Basically we've reached a point where we can't learn everything, so we specialize. There are brain surgeons who can't configure a home network. Programmers who don't know anything about a car engine.

            Now I'm not saying anything about work ethic here. But if someone needed to be a mechanic to drive a car, then we'd have too many mechanics, or not enough people drivi
      • The simplification to which you refer, perhaps more accurately put as the abstraction away of specific complexities, in fact enables us to achieve greater accomplishments more with the mental energies thus liberated. You want to write all your software in assembly language, be my guest—but I think even on Slashdot we can accept that high-level languages allow the programmer to focus on the hard problems, instead of the mundane sort of drudgery that should have become so familiar to you by now.

        It's the
    • Agreed. And I don't think an appreciate of pictures has anything to do with attention span. In my experience working as an engineer/programmer, engineers appreciate pictures *at least* as much as non-engineers do.

      A picture truly is worth a thousand words - a class diagram or simple sketch of object interactions make a design far easier to understand than two pages of text.

      And that's not even accounting for engineers with not-so-great writing skills. Pictures help even more there.

  • Patronising BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:48AM (#19198621)

    Developers can deal with looking at tables and grids full of data to make decisions and get things done, but other types of workers (executives, salespeople, etc.) have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words, i.e. their software designed completely differently.
    The attention span of executives, salespeople, etc. is perfectly in fine. What they have in most cases is badly designed software often due to the 'attentive' developers who failed to gather or understand the correct requirements and then delivered a poor and inflexible implementation of this misunderstanding which does not deliver the information they really require.

    These people don't need their software designed completely differently, they just need it designed better.
    • Re:Patronising BS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:01AM (#19198703)
      It isn't just that it's condescending to say that sales and management people have no attention span... it's rather disengenuous, actually. In fact, I've worked with plenty of IT people who can't keep their employer's business objectives (you know, the things that actually allow the paychecks to be cashed?) in mind for more than one minute after they leave a meeting or delete an e-mail. Sales people stay focused on what they need to stay focused on (usually, cultivating a relationship with the person who has money to spend). That can take YEARS to cement. And one IT guy who's more interested in finding a machine to burn down so he can install some new distro than he is in making sure that the sales guy's CRM database doesn't puke while he's on the road and needs it the most... that can kill the cash cow that allows IT to exist at all. Basically: snotty IT types that describe all sales/management people in such patronizing terms are just illustrating exactly why sales/management types so often roll their eyes whenever they have to deal with IT.
      • And one IT guy who's more interested in finding a machine to burn down so he can install some new distro than he is in making sure that the sales guy's CRM database doesn't puke while he's on the road and needs it the most... that can kill the cash cow that allows IT to exist at all.

        Yes. True.

        Basically: snotty IT types that describe all sales/management people in such patronizing terms are just illustrating exactly why sales/management types so often roll their eyes whenever they have to deal with IT.

        Not

        • And frankly, your comment about "snotty IT types" is just as condescending as TFA's comment about "short attention spans".

          You're missing the point. There ARE snotty IT types out there, though not all IT people are of the snotty kind. I'm responding to the notion that ALL sales and management people are bereft of a useful attention span. They aren't. But you have to know, as I do, that when normal business people have run-ins with particularly toxic IT guys, that it can poison their notion of IT as a cult
          • But I'd like to point out that I can still hijack your own post Madlibs-style.

            You're missing the point. There ARE ADHD Sales types out there, though not all Salespeople have short attention spans. I'm responding to the notion that ALL IT and IS people are bereft of the usual social skills. They aren't. But you have to know, as I do, that when normal IT people have run-ins with particularly clueless/belligerant business guys, that it can poison their notion of management as a culture. Why? Because it happen

        • Particularly one surrounding processes.

          On the one side, you've got the stereotypical salesperson who "doesn't care about the tool or if something's wrong with it - they just want to get the job done".

          On the other, you've got the stereotypical techie who "doesn't care about the salesperson - he's got the requirements in front of him and as far as he's concerned, that's it".

          Both of these people (and real examples of these stereotypes do exist) need to get off their high horse for a minute. The salesman's rig
          • All I know is petrol goes in one hole, oil in another, water in a third - and that all need to be present. Turn the key, put it in gear, hit the accelerator and you've got forward motion.

            Certainly. But if that was all you knew about cars, I'd have an equal amount of disdain for you.

            Because really, it isn't. You know, for example, how to use the windshield wipers, turn signals, hazard lights, headlights, parking lights, high beams, parking brakes, mirrors, the doors, the windows, not to mention the steerin

            • I think the difference is: Cars have been in general use longer than CRM software. Even though things might not be in the same place, when you get in a car you know you will have the following: Steering wheel, gas/brake pedal, parking brake, gearshift, signals/lights, climate control. They have doors with locks. They all have a gas tank. While some of details and presentation are different, there are not any fundamental changes to the system.

              A driver knows what he's looking for when he sits in a ca
              • Even though things might not be in the same place, when you get in a car you know you will have the following: Steering wheel, gas/brake pedal, parking brake, gearshift, signals/lights, climate control. They have doors with locks. They all have a gas tank. While some of details and presentation are different, there are not any fundamental changes to the system.

                Define "fundamental".

                I mean, really. Some cars respond to voice commands. Some cars can be started remotely. Some cars use traditional keys, some u

        • by vrt3 ( 62368 )

          ... why are we still using paper checks?

          Completely off-topic, but that's something I often wonder about. Why *are* you still using paper checks? Over here in Europe, I see checks only very exceptionally. Personally I have used a check maybe two times in my whole life (I'm 32). I remember my parents using them when I was a kid though.

          Nowadays virtually all payments are done cash, via debit/credit/stored-value card, or wire transfer (depending on the circumstances, amount, type of transaction). Wages and sala

          • Wire transfer fees over here are stupidly high- the lowest I've seen is $10 each. Of course it's not a feature i ever use, so I haven't paid a lot of attention to the fees. Payroll is usually handled via the automated clearing house (ACH) system, and I have no idea what the fees on that are like but they were high enough the startup pharma company with a dozen employees I worked at didn't bother. We all got live paper checks each month.
  • missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yskel ( 1020399 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:50AM (#19198639)
    I think TFA is missing the point. After reading it, I came away with "If we make work less like work and more like fun, then it will be fun." However, fun does not equal associating pictures, likes/dislikes, favorite colors etc with a business contact. I think the point is that if your job requires you to use a CRM system, then it is not fun by definition, and no amount of reskinning that interface is going to make it more enjoyable.

    I agree that the ideas of connection, management and cooperation within MMORPG are potentially interesting in the context of managing large companies, but the "making work like a videogame" metaphor doesn't work for me.

    yskel
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...I thought it was because of the genetically engineered monster roaming the cubicles. Otherwise known as "Diane from Accounting".
  • I want a game where I can enter profits on my spread sheet with an interface that involves shooting fish in a barrel!

    Or may be a first person shooter with the TAX man as a way of handling sales taxes.

    • Hmm... Master of Orion III felt a lot like accounting...
  • Is there no limit to the shallowness and stupidity of the younger generation?
    • That's why it's time for your generation to quit your jobs, head to Florida, and leave the work to the youngsters. You insist on conflating boredom and drudgery with usefulness, and the sooner you turn the reins of power over to people who can see the difference, the happier everyone will be.
    • If you quote your father, at least give him credit, will you?
  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @10:55AM (#19198673) Homepage Journal
    From here [ntk.net]:

    Another user rings "I said what I wanted was more space on my account, *please*"

    "Sure, hang on"

    I hear him gasp his relief even though he'd covered the mouthpeice.

    "There, you've got *plenty* of space now!"

    "How much have I got?" he simps

    "Well, let's see, you have 4 Meg available"

    "Wow! Eight Meg in total, thanks!" he says, pleased with his bargaining power

    "No" I interrupt, savouring this like a fine red at room temperature, with steak, extra rare, to follow; "4 Meg in total.."

    "Huh? I'd used 4 Meg already, How could I have 4 Meg Available?"

    I say nothing. It'll come to him.

    "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggh hhhhH!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:00AM (#19198693)

    Does this mean that in order to advance to "the next level," you have to kill the Big Boss at the end of the current level?

  • by donnyfire ( 679042 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:02AM (#19198711)
    This has parallels with what I am learning in medical school (yes, a med student who reads slashdot *gasp*). We are taught that we cannot use medical jargon to explain things to patients, because our level of training and experience is completely different from that of the average patient. This is also true in software, but I don't think developers are taught this point. This often results in the user not understanding what may have been obvious to the software designer, and a program that is not popular with the public. In both fields, I feel one must think at the level of the end user. In medicine, it is to provide the best health outcome by promoting understanding. We do this because we recognize that not everyone is health literate. In software, I think to be successful, it is also important to recognize that not everyone is tech literate, and design products accordingly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )
      You're absolutely right.

      My computer science course, for instance, did spend some time in the first year emphasising that getting user requirements was absolutely crucial, and if you didn't have a good idea what they wanted you may as well go home now.

      But most of the marks came from designing and producing code. There was only one project which required us to go out and find user requirements before implementing them, and that was in the final year. Everything else, the requirements were given to you in pl
    • We are taught that we cannot use medical jargon to explain things to patients

      No wonder we think doctors are a bunch of patronising a-holes.

      You need to be taught to enquire as to the level of understanding of the patient. Its not impossible they know as much jargon as you - or at least a whole lot more Latin.

      In my contact with the medical profession, it appears they tend to exaggerate their knowledge/understanding considerably, and use or otherwise of medical jargon is not the issue. (But I don't live in t

    • We are taught that we cannot use medical jargon to explain things to patients, because our level of training and experience is completely different from that of the average patient.

      Absolutely true, but please don't confuse "doesn't know medical jargon" with "is unable to understand complicated ideas".

  • Interesting. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Explodicle ( 818405 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:02AM (#19198713) Homepage
    I can definitely see this sort of thing happening in my line of work; I'm a mechanical engineer who specializes in design. I'll spend the bulk of my work week playing with 3D models, and the finite element model [wikipedia.org] does all the work I hated having to do by hand. The people who use my work give ratings for how much they like the final product, so I like to think of (that rating)/(total cost) as my "score".
  • When your workplace starts looking more like a video game (for example, Doom 1/2/3) you need to start seeking help before it is too late....
    • When your workplace starts looking like Doom 1, you probably need glasses.
      • When my workplace starts looking like Doom 3, I'll just turn on the damn light switch.
        • Ah, but if you have the light on, then you can't use the keyboard. So even though you can now see what you're doing, you can't do it without putting the light away.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My workplace occasionally start looking like Doom 3, but the generators usually kick in pretty quickly.
  • The reason why this is happening is because most business software designed by engineers for engineers ends up being shelfware. One of the main ideas behind modern Business Intelligence software is that the most sophisticated pattern recognition engine lies between our ears. Give the user a well designed visualization of their data and they'll see the pattern. Give them grids and tables and they'll shrug.
    • I disagree. If you have more then 3 factors involved, visualization is impossible. When you come up with n-dimensional displays, then we'll talk.
  • Etrade does this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:15AM (#19198791) Homepage

    ETrade's user trading interface was deliberately designed to look something like a video game. Not too many choices, self-guiding, big type. This encourages users to trade too much.

  • plays like a video game, now. It's all about maximizing your benefits while balancing your time expenditures. I, uhh... guess intentionally taking damage in a a speed run would be akin to taking a late fee on your car payment in order to make the rent payment. Boring stuff, eh?
  • or is the other way around ?
  • Richard Chesler: [Reading a piece of paper] The first rule of Fight Club is you don't talk about Fight Club?

    Narrator: [Voice-over] I'm half asleep again; I must've left the original in the copy machine.

    Richard Chesler: The second rule of Fight Club - is this yours?

    Narrator: Huh?

    Richard Chesler: Pretend you're me, make a managerial decision: you find this, what would you do?

    Narrator: [pauses] Well, I gotta tell you: I'd be very, very careful who you talk to about that, because the person who wrote that... is
  • I've always wanted a word processor where backspace and delete would show Packman eating away the letters.

    Bert
    • by Jotii ( 932365 )

      I've always wanted a word processor where backspace and delete would show Packman eating away the letters.
      You would end up with lots of work done, but no proof of it since you deleted it all to see Pacman.
  • No doubt, looking at game UIs or other UIs offers invaluable input. Yet, I would argue that it's more valuable to adopt the design and development process that the game industry has in place.

    There is a reason why contemporary games often have fairly progressive and intuitive user interface solutions. As most game designer have realized, you need to have the visual communication folks on-board at the start, and they need to have input in to the design of communication tools. More often then not, desktop appl
  • by SlimSpida ( 850632 ) on Sunday May 20, 2007 @11:53AM (#19199013)
    I don't think it's a matter of work imitating games, I think it's that application developers are now going down the same usability design paths that games require. Most people aren't required to play games, so the successful ones are the engaging ones, the games that give you a clear idea of what you need to do, and clearly present the required information. People like overcoming challenges when they think they see the way to do it. At work people are often dealing with scenarios where they would like to do a good job, but may not have the information on what is required, or they are dealing with too many factors to filter the wheat from chaff. They may lose focus because they have forgotten what their goals are. Most of management training revolves around how to present information to people, which provides the feedback loop people need to do their jobs. The idea that this is starting to show up in applications is an interesting, but natural step.
  • "how many professionals like working with their software in the office as much as gaming after hours?"

    Work hasn't been all that fun lately, but most modern games I encounter are still less fun.
  • This makes a lot of sense -- how many professionals like working with their software in the office as much as gaming after hours?

    I like sitting in my recliner at home a lot more than in my office chair at work, but it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the work chair. Different missions (pleasure vs productivity) yield different levels of enjoyment.

  • I thought work was like a Dilbert [dilbert.com] cartoon. Actually, when I worked in the video game industry for six years, management at one company did banned Dilbert cartons from cubicle walls since the similarities were amazingly relevent.
  • I actually made the comparison between a video game and my work just a few days ago, though not in the manner being discussed in the above article. Here is an example:

    I was tasked with setting up the Outlook profiles of 3 new users in the accounting office. This should be a very straight-forward, brain-dead job. To complete this, however, involved me eventually having to replace a machine in the office, which meant a trip across campus to the purchasing office in order to locate a spare box. The purc
  • I'm an up-and-coming game designer who has spent a lot of his time researching fundamental game mechanics and play concepts. A lot of what's coming out of the slashdotted article is that the program is being redesigned to make more sense to the user. Business productivity and sales software was never meant to be "exciting" or "flashy", it was just designed to get the job done.

    The reason why video games such as Second Life, World of Warcraft, and even RTS games such as SimCity, Civilization, and Age of Em
    • by Xentor ( 600436 )
      My thoughts exactly... I never thought being a warcrack addict would help me write financial software for a securities firm, but it really is helping me think along different lines when I set up the UI.

      I mean, sure, I could bombard the user with a screen full of numbers, and cram as much data onto the screen at once. I could, but would that be the best way to do it?

      No. Game designers realized this a long time ago, because the person viewing the data doesn't NEED to see ALL of that data ALL of the time.

      If
  • ...Now we can again have a dog light the house on fire.
  • I've been saying since 1978, that a modern business should resemble the bridge on the Starship "Enterprise". It is not the "interface" that's missing so much as the "feedback". A business has a cycle: The process of making contact with a prospect, getting an order, fulfilling the order and getting paid may actually happen pretty quickly in some instances, but it is not instantaneous. MIS can only do three things; measure compliance with the business objectives (like accounting), schedule the elements of the
    • I've been in IT since '72 and that's pretty much the way an intelligent designer makes things. Always has been. The reason it's a big deal is so many of the IT population are not good designers and XP or cowboy their way into a mess.
  • I see where they're coming from - my work resembles World of Warcraft. I'm a Level 2 Helpdesk Officer, work with trolls and orcs, don't have nearly enough gold, and have to grind for ages (often repeating the same missions multiple times) to get enough experience to level up.
  • Especially from this [3drealms.com] game.
  • I spend most of my spare time at home watching porn. Does that mean work should be more like porn?
  • I already can make work look like a videogame... Just look at my interface to kill processes [sourceforge.net] :-D
  • Multi-touch interface has already regained some strength for making apps more intuitive to use, in part thanks to recent efforts of Jeff Han [wikipedia.org]. He garnered much interest through a demonstration [youtube.com] at TED 2006. See what he's up to today [wired.com] with his new company.
  • For me, work is more like a cartoon.....Dilbert, to be precise.
  • This bit caught my eye:

    but other types of workers (executives, salespeople, etc.) have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words

    This is true for everyone up to a point. But it might be exposing the weaknesses in the sorts of people who go into executive/sales positions rather than the UI. Those who can absorb data in the 'denser' form of charts and tables will naturally have an advantage over those who can't. Those who can't will migrate to careers where this ability is

  • "Developers can deal with looking at tables and grids full of data to make decisions and get things done, but other types of workers (executives, salespeople, etc.) have little to no attention span and need a picture to be worth a thousand words, i.e. their software designed completely differently."

    This sounds like it is referring to the need for a new type of accessibility software -- accessibility software for the intellectually disabled (i.e. executives, salespeople, project managers, etc.).

    Sorry for t

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