Monday, October 5, 2009


One of my aspirations is to apply the same sort of creativity that goes into the look, feel and operation of computer games to business applications.  Some of the benefits of doing this are presenting information in a more efficient manner (3D and pictures provides the potential of presenting more information), minimizing training and making it more enjoyable.

This weekend an article in the New York Times Art and Entertainment section reviewed the game, Dead Space: Extraction, for the Nintendo Wii. Note - warning mature themes! What makes this game somewhat unique is that it is a "rail" game.  In rail games the game moves you, just as if you were in some invisible rail car, and your tasks are shooting and gathering objects.  This lack of concern for motion has its price - once you have passed something you can't go back, it is inherently a serial presentation.

When I read this I thought that perhaps we might be able to use this approach for work flow, especially work flow that builds on previous steps.  Although we might not have control of speed we may have the ability to slow or momentarily pause (an emergency "brake") the progression.  Work flow then becomes a natural progression rather than an annoying stream of menus and programs.  I realize this is analogous to frames and scripts from the AI literature, but perhaps we could push the rails analogy and actually have us moving by the steps, adding information as we cruise by.  A perspective button could provide a perspective on what is left in the path.

So what do you think, are their business applications that would benefit by placing users on "rails" and guiding through the workflow?  I would be interested in your thoughts on this and also whether rail games are compelling as a game genera - I like them because as I get older it is one less thing to do.  Later!