Gamification in Digital

“Monument Valley:” Less Game, More Experience

Monument Valley

Despite the fact that I spend the majority of my time in the digital world, I don’t play computer games very often. However, the other day, I was watching my five-year-old wind his way through “Monument Valley,” a game developed for the iPad and mobile by ustwo.  I soon became caught up in the interface, the design, the colors and the allure of getting to the next level. I asked myself: what is it about the UX of this game that drew me in and kept me there?

There were no instructions, no dialog—only background music and some faint sounds indicating a change on the screen. After completing each level you had learned the visual cues that you would apply in the next stage. There were no gold stars, coins or stacks of dead zombies to indicate progress; in fact, achieving the next level was positive feedback enough to want to continue.


At the Game Developers Conference, which took place August last year, one of the speakers was Ken Wong, Head Designer at ustwo. He spoke about the digital experience from a gamer and game developer viewpoint, but a few of his points apply to digital UX in general.

Every aspect of the digital UX contributes to the user experience. Branding, menus, mechanics, aesthetics, semantics, feedback and progression all help to create a satisfying experience for the user. At the same time, the designer must keep in mind that the user’s time is valuable and should not be wasted. Every minute a visitor to your digital product spends hunting for the informational visual cues he/she needs is a minute that detracts from a positive overall experience.

Monument Valley

In the end, digital UX is all about the journey—not how much your images rotate or parallax with the motion of the device. If the mechanics of the interaction don’t lend themselves to moving your user in the right direction, they become superfluous and distracting. Instead, the end goal of your digital product should be kept in mind when you are designing it so that your users have a positive experience when using your product.

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