I saw a disturbing video yesterday.
Disturbing because I cannot imagine doing something like that.
For so long….
The video was about this guy who’s been keeping this Dungeons & Dragons game going for 40 years.
If you’re not familiar with D&D, it’s a role playing game where you have a dungeon master creating the story and deciding what characters can and can’t do, kind of like a referee. And players throw their dice to advance in the story. You play with miniatures on dioramas.
This guy has been directing and creating every single item in these games (including hours painting the miniatures and piecing the dioramas together) for 40 years. That’s also 40 years of writing storylines, for not only one, but hundreds of characters, each one with their own personality, dramas etc. And 40 years of keeping track of all the different evolutions of these stories.
He’s got people flying in to his house and spending days in his basement playing this game.
For 40 freaking years! His daughter plays the game and even her boyfriend. Or I should say ex-boyfriend, because well, they broke up… but the show must go on!
If the massive scale of all this still hasn’t hit you, just know that players who die in the game usually cry. Because they won’t be able to play anymore.
It’s that serious.
Anyway, I thought it was an interesting story in world building, commitment and attention to detail (and craziness).
It’s also a good reminder of how people’s decisions influence actions and how these actions influence their experiences.
In the book “The case against reality” the author goes into a good model for understanding evolution. It’s called the PDA loop (Perceive, Decide, Act). It’s a useful model because, being a loop, it implies that it’s constantly going.
A person makes a decision, they act on that decision, this action changes their world and the world changes in response to that action. Modifying the person’s perception of reality and in turn, their experience (you can see a diagram here).
In short, what the D&D guy is doing is kind of playing on god mode, and he’s aware of how his and the players’ decisions are gonna affect their game world. And he makes sure that’s all accounted for. Otherwise how could he keep going after all this time?
The same way when you’re designing your checkout or sign up flow, you should keep all of this in mind. It doesn’t end when they pull out their credit card or when they type their email. You’re simply starting a new loop and changing your people’s perception with your product.
With your copy, your UX, your marketing touch points and your branding.
Whether his perception is going to be a good or a bad one, is in your control.
Lots to learn from game designers on this.
There are ways you can use to study, and optimize your user flow. If you need help, you can get in touch.