Deconstructing Arcade Classification

28 04 2008

Logical me was thinking that ‘Action’, ‘Puzzle’, ‘Adventure’, ‘Sports’, ‘Strategy’ and all the usual game categories are a solid and proven form of classification. Rebellious me was thinking: “wait a minute, this is not one of the Ten Commandments, nothing is written in stone here, what about doing it another way?”

So today’s question is: what is the most effective way of ordering game content on your site? Below is a quick wireframe mockup I made to illustrate what I’ll be referring to as ‘conventional aracde’: conventional in terms of layout, but also in terms of classification. I’m sure most readers will recognise the format in the illustration. If you need a more colorful idea of what I’m talking about just take a look at one of my own arcades: ‘FingerMonkey‘ or ‘Little Loki‘. They are both very conventional.

Conventional Arcade Layout

At first glance most people would probably say the ‘conventional’ method is best. It works, it’s proven, so why change it? Fair enough, but do we actually know how effective it is? As far as I know, there are no tests or polls that attest to this; and even if this model is effective, surely there are numerous other ways of displaying and relaying content in an engaging way. Let us not forget that the Internet is still a child, and we are raising it as we speak.

My instinct tells me there’s form in formlessness and we don’t have to follow existing models to succeed. Strict forms or models are confined to the very rules that engender them. Each model will have one or several elements that has been optimised for its audience, but it will also contain a number of redundancies that are a consquence of its own formalistic limitations. Ideally we would find a way of binding the key elements of as many working models as possible so the ideal aracde is one that is free from formalistic redundancy and at the same time is a working reflection of pure usability. Unfortunately there is a huge gap between idealism and practice which some people would term ‘reality’.

So getting back to some sort of ‘reality’ then, how do we apply some of the above logic to a new type of classification? Whilst this new classification may fall short of the ideal of formlessness, it could still offer a strong counter point to the ‘conventional arcade’. In short, the thought that I have arrived at is this: what about a classification that places its focus on responding to the user, rather than ordering the content and by consequence ordering the visitor too? A sort of classification that responds to the visitor’s feelings when he or she lands on the site. Could there be something to gain from shifting the focus from logic/order to emotion/organic?

I cannot say whether this would work yet and whether it would be any better than the conventional arcade, but based on these ideas I have come up with a new classification for my new WordPress powered arcade. For obvious reasons, I can’t tell you exactly how this will work until my project has been launched, but if you’re interested in finding out more about this idea, particularly if you are a developer, then feel free to get in touch. I will then send you an email that will self destruct precisely one minute after you’ve finished reading it 🙂

Visit FingerMonkey.net for some free flash gamer madness!

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29 04 2008
Building a WordPress games arcade Part 3 « The FingerMonkey Flash Arcade Blog

[…] my previous post I talked about ways of challenging categorisation. The ideas that came from that have been […]

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