I’m writing a new column for the online component of excellent games magazine Kill Screen.

It’s called The Game Design of Everyday Things, and is about the ways that the ways we interact with objects, spaces, and activities in the everyday world can inform the way we design games.

Which is, you know, a big topic, but one that pretty much encompasses lots of my interests and work to date. I think it’s going to cover some nice ideas in the coming weeks and months.

I’ve started by looking at that fundamental of electronic games: buttons.

Every morning, I push the STOP button on the handrail of a number 63 bus. It tells the driver I want to get off at the next stop.

I’m very fond of the button. It immediately radiates robustness: chunky yellow plastic on the red handrail. The command, STOP, is written in white capitals on red. There’s a depression to place my thumb into, with the raised pips of a Braille letter “S” to emphasize its intent for the partially sighted. When pushed, the button gives a quarter-inch of travel before stopping, with no trace of springiness; a dull mechanical ting rings out, and the driver pulls over at the next stop.

It’s immediately clear what to do with this button, and what the outcome of pushing it will be. It makes its usage and intent obvious.

This is a good button.

Read “Buttons” over at Kill Screen.

  • "To celebrate the appearance of A Humument App on iPhone I shall shortly add a dozen or so newly revised pages." Awesome: the magically-changing book is taking shape.
  • Twenty-two lines, ten words a line, just like the blocks.
  • "The DJ Hero franchise will follow Guitar Hero into the flames, publisher Activision has confirmed.

    Speaking at an investor call today, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explained that its entire music division was to close. It's not clear exactly how this will impact DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games nor Guitar Hero team Vicarious Visions, though the publisher confirmed that 500 jobs would be cut company-wide during restructuring."

    Idiots. Not being able to flog something to death on an annual basis doesn't make it bad; indeed, both DJ Hero games were superb, rivalling the early Harmonix Guitar Heroes. A shame, especially for everyone at Freestyle. I do hate the games industry sometimes.