Juicy: Using Game Design to improve the Email Experience

During GDC I played Peggle, and I picked up the design term juicy from Chaim Gingold: A juicy interface is one that gives excessive amounts of feedback for all of your actions – particle effects (you can’t have too many), halos, sounds, things that glow, bounces, echoes, and so on. Juicy interfaces are usually incredibly satisfying, and it is one of the things that PopCap excel at creating. Juicy interfaces are generally quite addictive, in the positive sense.

So I realized that my email program for years has been set up to make me addicted to the wrong thing: There is a bell when a mail comes in, which gives me your old variable interval reinforcement “ah, yes, that’s the stuff”-feeling. So I get addicted to checking my mail, which is completely unproductive.

I want to be addicted to replying to mail, so I removed the sound for when mail comes in and I’ve set up a sound for when I send an email. Now, sending a mail is much juicier than it used to be, and my email experience is much better.

Technically, I would like the mail program to provide extra feedback for when I reply to a mail vs. sending a mail (can’t see how to do that in Eudora). Why not particle effects, halos, sounds, things that glow, bounces, echoes?

I want a really juicy email experience.

[Update: I now realize that Kyle Gabler, Kyle Gray, Matt Kucic, and Shalin Shodhan discussed juiciness a while ago on Gamasutra.]

6 thoughts on “Juicy: Using Game Design to improve the Email Experience”

  1. here is this abomination called ?IncrediMail? (to be found at http://www.incredimail.com) which you might find entertaining (if you don?t mind the ads, of course).

    And will you please have some fun with the delete-button and send that other comment of mine into oblivion? I lost this gamble that I could use UBB-code to ‘juice up’ the link.

  2. I don’t see why modern mail apps couldn’t muster a little animation. If both Vista and OS X Tiger can handle 3D manipulation of windows, why couldn’t the e-mail you send rotate three-dimensionally on the y-axis, then slip into the screen as though putting an envelope in a mail slot? With sparkles?

    My mail.app makes it sound like an airplane. I associate the sound more with relief than excitement, though, as in “thank god my outgoing mail server’s working today!”

  3. One of my favorite examples of a sublimely juicy interface is Charlie Cleveland’s Zen of Sudoku.

    In particular, I love the sounds and highlights that it makes whenever you solve a row, column, or box or get the last of a certain digit placed on the puzzle. Also noteworthy is the beautiful music and animation when you finish the puzzle.

    Thanks for drawing more attention to this design concept. It’s great to have a simple (not to mention mouth-watering) term to describe it.

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