It seems as if the gaming industry suffers from the same over-compensation issues that the design world does. Game Designer Zack Hiwiller created this series of Super Mario Bros. images depicting what it might look like if it was created by todays standards; and I can’t agree more.
One of my pet peeves with design these days is how often we have to pander to the lowest common denominator. Often times, if not always, it is at the expense of the design, and sometimes at the expense of a big idea. I hate to see something crushed visually or conceptually because we have to put instructions on things, or ruin the natural flow of something that could otherwise be figured out if people were given the opportunity to use their powers of observation.
Humans are quite intelligent creatures. Even our least savvy audience is much more in touch with their powers of observation than we give them credit for. As far as technology goes, it is partly a generational thing, but to say people can’t learn the next generations technology is just lazy. We have a 99 year old lady who have never used a computer, whose life is now changed by an iPad. We are responsible for making the technology work in ways that compliment everyday actions. From there all they have to learn is how to click a mouse.
It is not about making things difficult and then leaving the user hanging. We have to make good decisions in the design, and rely on the human power of observation and instinct. If someone sees a book on screen, and no buttons, the first thing they will try to do is turn the page. You would be hard pressed to find a person that sits there staring at it waiting for a “click here” button to pop up. Even if it takes the user a click or two to get the hang of it, that also means the reward of figuring it out is even greater. If we lead everyone by the hand, the cost/reward system of discovery is destroyed, and the only rewards we are left with are the visuals we create after they “click here”. Keep in mind those are the same visuals we most likely just destroyed by filling it with instructions. We have created such passive experiences in an interactive world.
See more images here: If Mario Was Designed in 2010