Paul O’Connor’s ‘Hummingbird Manifesto’

We just ran across an awesome editorial on iPhone game design by Appy Entertainment’s Brand Director, Paul O’Connor (formerly of High Moon Studios), and we wanted to share it with you guys.

In his “Hummingbird Manifesto” blog entry, O’Connor lays out his case against highly involved, time-sapping games on the iPhone:

“Call me brain damaged from too much Twitter, but I really don’t want to block out more than five minutes for an iPhone game. Frequently I’ll want to get in and out in even less time. I made plenty of ‘appointment games’ in my past life so maybe I’m just burned out, but if an iPhone game requires that I sign up for some kind of prolonged campaign with tutorials and multiple scenarios, well ‘¦ include me out.”

O’Connor’s Exhibit A for an iPhone “appointment game” (by which he seems to mean a game you need to set aside time for) is Westward, which we recently reviewed. He calls it “perfectly playable, charming, and enjoyable,” but he goes on to say that he’s “just not very interested in playing [it] on my iPhone” because it moves too slowly.

The crux of O’Connor’s argument is that iPhone games “are out in the world with me,” meaning that their use case is often very different than a sit-down-and-play console game. He wants games that are “fast, shiny, and delightful, where the engagement comes not just from the length of the content but from the sparkle of the execution.”

We don’t agree with everything O’Connor has to say. iPhone games aren’t always “ephemeral distractions wedged in around all the reading, texting, talking, and listening I do with my iPhone.” If a game is good enough, we think it can hold its own at the top of the iPhone usage hierarchy; the trick, in our opinion, is to design the game so that play sessions are scalable depending on the amount of time available. Easier said than done, of course!

In any case, this is a post well worth reading. Tell ‘em STP sent ya!

[from Appy Place blog]