It’s Not About The Production Values

I promise that I’ll write more about my visit to various companies in San Francisco soon, but I wanted to talk about a phrase I’ve heard a lot over my years in the games industry: ‘production values’.

Whenever I hear that phrase, or more specifically, when I hear the way people use that phrase, it seems that they’re only looking at the visuals (and possibly listening to the audio, but not always). But that’s clearly not all that games are about. They’re a critical part of the whole, certainly, but not all. It’s always bugged me.

So what to call the whole? One thing I picked up from my recent trip is that there’s a huge amount of overlap with design companies such as Adaptive Path and IDEO (if you don’t know who these companies are, you owe it to yourself to find out), and design led companies such as Apple. Not just in terms of what we do, but in terms of how it’s done. And what they’re aiming at isn’t just the product, but the entire experience.

What’s the packaging like? How does it feel to unbox this? What’s the first contact? How does that compare to the hundredth contact, the thousandth contact? What’s going to make me tell my friends about this? What happens if I do this? Can I do that? What if I try this and that at the same time? Where can I go to find out more about this? How did they make this? I want to do this too.

So, I’m proposing a new term for you to consider on your current, next and previous projects: Experience Values. Maybe it’s just a cute psychological trick, but I’m already considering and approaching projects differently. And if it works for me, it might just work for you.

-David (@dwlt)