Safe Design

When I worked in traffic safety, a critical point was that systems need to be forgiving. A momentary lapse in attention or judgment should not lead to disaster. Granted, we live in the kind of universe where that’s just the way it is, but your design should seek to minimize that rather than to wrap people around trees.

In terms of game design, I am thinking about UI rather than combat here. Most games have figured out that one-click character deletion is a Bad Thing. Most games let you lock items or bags so that you cannot accidentally sell or deconstruct an important set of gear. Another aspect is that these need to be sufficiently customizable: if there are too many “click OK to confirm” screens, you start automatically clicking OK without thinking, which is just a more tedious version of not having the warning. As a player, I want to be able to pick what is hidden, what gets a warning pop-up, etc.

In terms of hardware design, I need a computer case whose power/reset buttons have a panel over them. I want it to be like the self-destruct button you’d see in a movie, with the clear plastic cover you need to flip before hitting the big red button. I’m not worried about myself in this case. I have a cat.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “Safe Design”

  1. Hopefully you find this entertaining… Microsoft’s XBox 360 Slim has buttons on the front that aren’t really buttons, they’re sensors. So you just wave your finger in front of it, and it activates, like the eject sensor or the sensor to turn it on. Its nice, sleek, and very “techy”. However… I realized over the weekend it had one big drawback: accidental activation.

    A mouse had found its way into our condo… no big deal, we have a cat to take care of them. The mouse ran behind our TV console, where the game systems are located. She somehow activated the sensor to eject the disc tray, (just from proximity to it) then used the ejected tray as a springboard to pounce to the back of the entertainment center.

    Suffice to say, today I’m sending my Xbox in for repair. I thought it was a great design, until it allowed anything to open it, even my cat.

  2. And in the “not just cats” category, when my daughter was just becoming mobile around the house, she used to love to press the big glowing, green button on the front of my wife’s computer, usually while my wife was working on something important.

    I never had that problem because my computer had an unlit black button on a black panel behind an access panel. I had to find it by touch every time, but it never got hit by accident.

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