(2007-03-21) Sierra Meta Level

Kathy Sierra on driving your Product Development from the Meta Level. If anythng could finally bring girls to the games, it would be the perfectly-pedigreed Purple Moon's first game, Rocketts New School. Except it sucked. At the meta-level. Because what is the meta-level for a game? Oh yes, fun... With our books, that meta-thing is learning.... The best trick we know for finding the meta-level is to play the Five Whys / Why Who Cares So What game. Ask your users (or even just yourself) what's important about a product. When they answer, ask, "Why?" When they answer that, say, "So?" and when they answer that, say, "Who cares?" and keep going until you get to the heart of it. (And if you haven't played this before, most people stop WAY too early and miss what matters the most.) Only then do you discover that this feature the users--and you--believed to be meaningful was simply a tolerable way to do what they really wanted. When they say that X is important, dig deep enough and you might find that it was only because X let them do Z, and that there's a much better way to make that happen. (Does this inherently result in a Compelling offering?)

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