In the paper I wrote last year for the CHI workshop on user experience in games, I argued that bad usability can be a good thing if it is bad for the right reasons. An example could be the horse in Sonyâ€™s renowned Shadow of The Colossus; when the player is riding the horse, the controls are unresponsive and certainly not effective in the traditional usability sense. The designersâ€™ reason to do this could be two-fold: First, it makes the horse feel alive and real – not even a dressage horse responds mechanically to its riderâ€™s commands. Second, it frustrates the player into being annoyed with the horse, and perhaps even into whipping it repeatedly – imagine the guilt or remorse felt, when late in the game, your only companion, the horse, sacrifices itself to save you. That is a strong experience for a game to create, and it does so through bad usability (and nice directing). I do not know if this was Fumito Ueda’s intention, but for me it was the result.
My own current design approach is to create a list of intended emotional effects and try to build my design around that. More on this later.