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Machines Being Charming

November 19, 2010

There is an interesting article in New Scientist about how we can make computers more easy to use by humans though the use of very human emotions such as charm..

“THAT’S ridiculous!” exclaimed the software engineer, busy working on improving a spellchecker. I was visiting her workplace as a consultant on the strength of my reputation for making computers easier, more effective and pleasant to use. Because I had come to feel that users needed a kinder spellchecker, something closer to an encouraging teacher than a disparaging critic, I had suggested the system could not only correct mistakes but praise users when they spelled difficult words correctly.

Sadly you need to sign-in to read the full version. I’ve read it in the magazine format. It documents a fascinating experiment where people rate that software giving them positive feedback is accurate even when they are told that it does not work properly. Summary – it seems we are wired for flattery.

But on the subject of using positive feedback (flattery, charm etc) in human-computer interactions; this is something that games excel at. The best place to find this is in a game’s tutorials; for example lots of FPS games give feedback on how well a player has been shooting during the training sections.

But when you think of the whole meta-structure of most games – they are replete with reward mechanisms, machine flattery designed to keep the player, playing!

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