Lara Croft has web-design skills

Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. It is actually possible to learn how to improve our webdesign skills by playing a good (actually almost perfect) video-game, Tomb Raider in this case.

Tomb Raider is a video game series that’s been around for quite a while, since 1996 says Wikipedia. I’ve never been a great fan of the series, although, if you are aged properly, you might remember it making quite a splash when it first came out. I’m not sure why, perhaps because of the main character’s physical features and the peculiar location you find yourself in (ancient tombs, indeed).

In 2013 a new chapter of the series came out, and it got quite a good reception both in sales and in critics. So, since I enjoy playing games every now and then, I picked it up and started playing it.

I was quite surprised by the overall quality of the product, as it’s got a high degree of polish and plays quite well, but I’m not here to review it, you can head to Polygon if you want a great piece about the game.

What I want to do instead, is to talk about Tomb Raider in relation to Web Design.
You see, what really hit me about this game is that it caters for a great User Experience, and by this I mean that it puts forward some well executed ideas that end up improving the experience and ultimately increasing the fun, without making the game too easy (or maybe yes, but we are not interested in this).

Let me give you an example.
You are Lara Croft. You are walking. You approach an area that requires you to crouch.
Now, in most games, you would have to press a button (the crouch button). Here, you don’t. There is a contextual action that crouches for you, so that you don’t have to remeber which button to press, time the action right, clumsily move around the area while crouched. What this does, is to improve your user experience AND the aesthetics too, as the on-screen action is much smoother and a pleasure to watch.

Another example:
You hit a enemy with your gun, but it’s not a critical hit. The enemy is stunned. You can finish him. The game shows you an overlay beside the enemy, showing which button to press to finish him. You press it, the enemy dies.

One last example:
You approach a gizmo needed to open some door or window. You need to repeatedly press a button to make it work. On screen, you’ll see a blue stylized button, moving fast up and down. You press the button a number of times, and the gizmo is unlocked.

Here’s a gameplay video for you, before continuing further

What does this teach us?
The frontiers of user interactions are moving forward.
Crystal Dynamics – the dev of the game – did a wonderful job under every aspect, from graphics, to gameplay, to fun-factor. We can learn from their hard work and finally find new solutions for navigating our websites. Things are starting to move in the right direction.
Talking about websites, Polygon provides a rich navbar which attempts to be as informative and useful as possible.
Readwrite has decided to completely remove the old-skool navbar, by providing instead a “hub” from where you can start exploring the site. A great idea if you ask me.

I want to see more
But I definitely want to see more of this.
I want a website to know what I want to see next, I want a website to understand my mood, and give me some easy choice of where to go next.
I want my website to make certain choices for me (like Lara Croft crouches when she approaches a tunnel)
I understand this is quite a challenge, but it’s good to see that the whole industry (and I’m referring to the larger technology industry) is moving in the right direction.
I want webdesigners like you and me to be at the fore-front of this.

We need to play more videogames, too.german to englishportugueses to english translationitalian translation service

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