Tag Archive | Experience(s)

Experience Design 2

The ultimate goal of the Designer is to deliver an Experience.

The game is not the experience. The game enables the experience, but it is not the experience. The experience rises out of the game. Ultimately, a game designer does not care about games. Games are merely a means to an end.

(Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by experience design?”

“I see my life as a beautiful modular Game, which is made up of a myriad of smaller life-games. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; medium length]. 

The Beautiful Game is both a Game and a Meta-Game. I am both the Player and the Game Designer [<link; short].
As the Player, I’m playing the Game.
As the Designer, I’m playing the Meta-Game. 

Experience design is part of the Meta-Game. It’s a meaningful framework for creating experiences.”

“What is the essence of experience design?”

“There are two essential aspects to it:
Selecting Experiences
Beautifying Experiences

Selecting has to do with being selective, choosing the 20% most meaningful and enriching experiences you could possibly have – I call them the precious 20, in contrast with the lackluster 80 – and designing your life around them. 

By default, we do the lackluster 80 most of the time and the precious 20 from time to time. I say we reverse that, do the precious 20 most of the time and the lackluster 80 from time to time.”

“That’s very hard to do.”

“It’s not easy, but it’s something worth striving for.

Beautifying has to do with making the most of and enriching ANY experience you have.

You might think of the former as the Macro, and the latter as the Micro.

Fundamentally, experience design is the process of creating and (efficiently) using specific mental tools for achieving those ends.”

“How do you beautify an experience?”

“There are two aspects to the process:
Attention-directing [<link; medium]

In practical terms, you can beautify an experience in two ways:
(1) By viewing it through a filter of Meaning.
(2) By increasing its Richness through making it Embodied and involving all senses: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, Gustatory (VAKOG).

As concerns (1), I’m referring to two lenses [<link; medium] in particular:
– a model I call Foreground/Background [<link; medium]

Values refers to a synergistic selection / stack of what I call instrumental Values, Values which, through directing Attention, have a practical effect in the moment. For me, those are:

Loving Play [<link; short]
Beauty [<link; short]

All these combined have an expansive emotional flooding effect.

Foreground/Background refers to metaphorically viewing the Micro experience – the foreground – against the Macro background-story of your life. For instance, I see my life as the Beautiful Game, which means every single experience is part of the Game. I actually say to myself:

This too is the Beautiful Game.

As concerns (2), you can metaphorically think of it as savoring.”

“A bit like how wine tasters savor their chosen experience?”

“Yes. However, unlike wine tasters, not limited to a very narrow range of experience. Developing the capacity to savor and find the Beauty in ANY experience.”

“Even highly unpleasant ones?”

“That’s that highest end of it.”

Beautiful Models: High-Density Experiences

Train to live on the other side of pain. (Josh Waitzkin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I had a beautiful experience watching a mosquito drink my blood. I’d never seen it happen.”

“Wasn’t it painful?”

“An essential aspect of my training is exposing myself to discomfort and pain. That’s what it started as, but ended up as a contemplation on the beautiful miracle that is Life.

This is what I call a high-density [<link; short length] experience. It lasted but a few moments, but it felt like so much happened in that brief time-span. I often get the same feeling during my 5-minute meditation sessions.”

Verbal Empties

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“In Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, there’s an underground-train station called ‘The Labor Market’ (‘Piata Muncii’ in Romanian), a vestige of the country’s Communist past.

That name holds a special significance for me. It has nothing to do with the actual meaning of the name, but with the fact that it has a meaning.

For quite a long time, those two words were just the name of a station, nothing more. In my mind they formed one unit, a two-word label pointing to a physical location. The name might as well have been ‘Station Whatever’.

Discovering that those two words had a meaning came as a sudden insight.

It is possible to read the words without grasping the meaning.

For me, this was a mini revelation.

In Romanian we have the expression ‘a citi in gol’, which literally translates ‘to read emptily’. I didn’t make the connection then, but it’s the same thing.

That little moment of insight was a stepping stone, which led to a fruitful inquiry into the limits of language and the nature of understanding itself.

I later called this phenomenon surface understanding (as opposed to deep understanding), and I called the instances of the phenomenon verbal empties.”

“Was this experience what started you on your quest to understand understanding?”

“I think there was a confluence of factors. Maybe the compounding effect of many such little insights.

I captured the memory of that moment of insight in a question:

Are you grasping the meaning, or just reading the words?


I am a mover, I am a thinker, I am a teacher. (Ido Portal)

The (only) reason why I chose to work in a bar is to develop my social skills. So it’s part of my adventure to actualize my potential.

I did, to a certain extent, but as a dear friend astutely observed, I became exceedingly effective at avoiding people while being in their midst.

However there’s an opportunity in every failure. In this case, it was a beautiful instance of serendipity.

Serendipity: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

I did gain something extremely valuable out of it: it (re)kindled my love of movement, and made me fully embrace my identity of “mover”. 

I am a mover, I am a thinker… and I’d love to be able to say about myself some day: “I am a teacher”.

I haven’t received this much attention in my entire life, working as a nightly bar aid at Belushi’s Hammersmith.

For someone who is not very social (yet), this is quite overwhelming. People seem to like what I’m doing. And what I am doing is move. A lot (and maybe in an aesthetically pleasing way). I move very fast and dance around the tables (and people) while collecting glasses. I’ve been jokingly thinking of inventing a new branch of Parkour:

Crowd Parkour: navigating a crowd of people at high speed

People have been asking me if I’m a dancer. No, but I’d love to be. I want to express myself through movement, and dance is a beautiful direction to explore, next to Parkour.

Interestingly, I didn’t know I can move like this, and (to my mind) I didn’t know how to dance before I started working at Belushi’s. When I started working here I had no idea what to expect. Basically I ended up here by chance, it was the only thing I could find, given my lack of previous bar experience.

Who’d have thought it would end up being such a transformative experience, and one of the most important experiences of my life.