AlexanderStein (Pixabay)

Who would have thought that a game about paperclips would be so addictive?  But it is.  Paperclips is, at its heart, simple resource management.  You make one paperclip and sell it.  You make another and sell it until soon you can afford to buy machines that will make paperclips for you. And then big bigger machines.  And but the metal spool automatically.  But wait, there’s more!

Market the paperclips to your customers.

Buy drones to increase brand awareness.

Takeover your competition.

Mind control the world!!!!

And then develop space travel, defeat aliens and conquer the known and unknown universe.  At the end of the game you have 30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 paperclips.  All in six or seven hours.

The game, to be honest, was mildly addictive.  I started on Monday, finished on Tuesday.  It is text-based (except for the space war, but flying dots doesn’t really count as high tech graphics) but that actually added to the appeal.  The game wins through grabbing the audience and holding on to them so that when you think you’re at the end you’re at the beginning of the next phase.

Gamificaiton designers, the people who add gaming elements to other problems, could take a lesson from these guys as they took creating paperclips and evolved it into an art form.  I could have been working on a cure for cancer and I wouldn’t have known it as I was immersed in the game.  And that is the idea behind gamification, making the task into a game so that people are more absorbed by the problem and more willing to invest in a solution.

A game doesn’t explain everything that is happening, it just happens.  And apps should be developed along the same concept.  the best selling apps on the Apple App Store are those that are simple to understand and simple to use.  Like a game.

When you take a look at something you’ve designed, something that you are working on, see if it is simple to use and simple to understand.  This coffee mug explains it all:

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