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FEBRUARY 18, 2009    More below:  FROGGER

Does it feel good?

Lecture about Hedonomics with screen in backgroundThe title should have been a warning: An Hedonomic Evaluation of the Effect of Repeated System-Exposure on Pleasurable Human-System Experience.

This is what you title your doctoral dissertation because in academia saying things clearly and directly doesn't sound very...well...scholarly. It doesn't make for an enjoyable presentation at a meeting.

In fairness to the organizers of the event, NEOUPA-Northeast Ohio Usability Professionals' Association, they did warn us. The description of the lecture included this memorable sentence:

Suggestions for future research directions for Hedonomics include mitigating the habituation of flow effect by incorporating an adaptive hedonomic design to reduce the effect of boredom that comes with familiar stimuli an approach that enables the user to create a balance between typicality and novelty in order to allow for changing cultural norms and personal change over time.

In other words:

We need to learn how to build variety into the system so people don't get bored too easily.

So I wasn't surprised when the evening's speaker used academic terms throughout her presentation. I was disappointed that she didn't translate them into normal human speech. In my experience, people who really understand their subject matter thoroughly can explain it in a way that a non-academic can understand. My Physics teacher at the University of Dayton made that point in his lectures, and he was the guy who had written our textbook. For a while I even thought I understood Physics, but that was soon proven wrong.

So curiously, the meeting about the study of user enjoyment wasn't very enjoyable, a disconnect I find troubling. Still, I learned that Frogger 3D is more enjoyable than the original Frogger. Since Frogger was an early arcade video game—think Pac-Man era—it takes me back to that less complicated time when I could sort of play video games. (play old-school Frogger below.)

Kansei Engineering

But my video-gaming skills aside, the most interesting thing I learned at the meeting is the term Kansei Engineering. It refers to a systematic approach for learning peoples' feelings of affection and emotion towards a product or system. Point is that once you find out exactly what people find pleasurable you can use this information to improve the product or system. The poster child for the use of Kansei engineering is the Mazda Miata. As Mazda puts it:

The Mazda Miata is the jewel of "Kansei Engineering," a deeply held philosophy that every car and truck that Mazda makes should be designed and engineered to provide strong emotional as well as functional satisfaction to its driver. For a unique sports car like Miata, whose sole purpose is pure driving fun, this objective is very important.

A quick internet search didn't turn up much information on Kansei. Wikipedia even flags its entry as having "multiple issues" including a possible conflict of interest for the author. Other articles rehash similar information, and the website of the Japan Society of Kansei Engineering has little to offer the general public.

But stay tuned. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more about Kansei engineering in the near future. In the meantime...

Play old-school Frogger

Here is an online clone of the original Frogger—no quarters needed.

Use your cursor keys to move the frog (at the bottom) across the road and river to safety on the other side.


Frogger made by Neave Games


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