Design Thinking: New Innovative Thinking for New Problems
Siang’s article calls for a change in Design thinking by pointing out that as the society changes rapidly, designer should no longer focus only on the tame problems since they could not satisfy our need in today’s world anymore. Rather, designers should be human-centered, while keeping the scientific approach. He states that “Design Thinking is a large part of that new approach towards innovation, as it allows people, teams, and organisations to have a human-centred perspective, and yet a scientific approach, towards solving a problem.” Thus, designers should think beyond data and technical part, considering how the innovation could improve our lives, making contributions in the relative fields such as education and medicine.
His claim reminds me the update of social media applications. In the early 2000s, some companies, such as MSN, providing an online chatting platform, to help users communicate in distance. Without the high cost of a transnational phone call, people in different parts of the world could also communicate whenever they want and all they need is Internet. At that time, MSN nearly occupied the market and earned huge profits. However, as companies such as Skype and Tencent promote video call, which allows the users to catch the other’s facial expression, MSN suddenly loses the market. The failure of MSN does not mean that MSN designer fail to fix the bug. Rather, their failure could be ascribed to the failure of reading the current human needs. Thus, the failure of MSN illustrates the designers should not only fix bugs but consider how their products could truly change people’s lives.
According to Siang, the next step is to build an interdisciplinary team. “To facilitate Design Thinking and innovation, thus, organisations need to start thinking about truly cross-departmental, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and abandon the silo model of skills.” Because of globalization, which stimulates the much more rapid change in the society, a team filled with both programmers and designers is more likely to achieve success. Also, he mentions that working environment is equally important too, since it keeps the dynamic of the team, which stimulates the workers to be creative and productive. Thus, since the new designers should be human-centered and need to focus on improving human’s lives, they should no longer merely focus on technical issues, but trying to find ways to fit human’s need, designing things to improve their quality of life, and changing the working environment to stimulate designers to be creative and dynamic.
There is No Interface (Without a User). A Cybernetic Perspective on Interaction
Scherffig traces the history of interactive design and argues that even as early as the emergence of Whirland, designers start to make the machine interactive. Thus, the “black art” emerges. They try to train the machines so that they could interact with people. Then Newell and Simon develop the idea of “an understanding of human thinking that was driven by the verdict that it is a form of the symbolic information processing exhibited by computers” (67). In this project, Newell believes that human should not only be operators but communicators who communicate with computers. Then, he proposes the project XEROX which is inspired by cognitive theory. After him, Norman points out the concept of concrete thinking and “direct manipulation”.
The accounts of Scherffig reinforce the essential idea of interactive design, and some of his ideas resonate that of Siang. They both agree that the improvement in interactive products prioritizes the need of human beings. In these products, designers try to improve the experience of interaction of human beings who interact in front of a computer. The computer should not only function as a machine, which waits for the operator to utilize it. Rather, it could communicate with human beings, knowing their needs through the interaction, and then help people to finish their tasks.
Their statements remind me of the design of “Help” Bottom in Mac OS system. For me, such design treats the user as a communicator, rather than an operator. It is different from traditional Windows System, which only gives instructions. Rather, in the OS system, if you click the “Help” button, the system will guide you to the possible button that you may want to click in order to finish your task. Such design is much more useful and easier for users, and reveal the concept of “interaction”.
Play as Research: The Iterative Design Process ”
Zimmerman uses three games as examples to illustrate the concept of iterative design.
He clarifies that these games emphasize structure and experience, and both the designers and users play equally important roles—Interaction— in these games. “In iterative design, there is a blending of designer and user, of creator and player. It is a process of design through the reinvention of play”. In other words, both the creator and the player contribute to the game. They continuously reinvent the play through interaction. Without the players, the game is meaningless since it only contains rules that designers design. However, once the players interact with it, the patter of “behavior, sensation, social exchange and meaning” emerges. Therefore, both of them are important in endorsing a meaning to the game.
However, I am not quite sure whether such a theory could be applied to RPG games or not, since the rules in RPG games seem more powerful than the result of interaction from the players. For example, many RPG games designers write the script and set several endings for the characters. Though different reaction from players may lead to different endings, the possible endings are limited after all. Thus, it seems that the designers give some meanings to the game, and the players could only “choose” the ending, whether intentionally or not, from the pool.
In addition, I find what is particularly interesting in this article is Zimmerman’s comment to prototype. He explains that in the early stage of game design when the first prototype emerges, the game itself may not as interesting and attractive as its later versions. However, the core role that prototype plays is to eatable a core mechanic, which is the base for the further design and development of the project. He says that “Virtually all games have a core mechanic, an action or set of actions that players will repeat over and over as they move through the designed system of a game.” Such a core mechanic highlights the meaning of actions and explains why such actions are meaningful.