At a NEOUPA event earlier this week, Lauren Murphy (Ernst & Young) presented on the topic of hedonomics. Most of the attendees (including myself) knew very little about it. As it turns out, hedonomics is a relatively new branch of ergonomics that focuses on the pleasure of human-technology interactions. Lauren shared a diagram similar to the following…
The general idea is that technology should be designed for individual pleasure once the collective needs of safety, functionality, and usability have been met. This individual pleasure can be described as the experience itself of immersion or of being “in the flow”. For example, when playing video games, the outside world can seem to disappear and the game becomes an extension of the player. Similar experiences can occur when reading, playing sports, listening to music, etc.
Lauren shared three of her studies, but I found the third to be the most interesting. In this study, Kensei Engineering techniques were used to build a list of terms that describe an ideal video game. Over several 30 minute gaming sessions, participants would play classic Frogger and Frogger 3D. After each session, participants would rate each game using the Likert scale terms. Although the game play and sound of the two versions are nearly identical, the improved graphics and perspective of Frogger 3D presumably gave it slightly higher scores.
In summary, Lauren found in her three studies that:
- “Pleasurable human-system experience increased linearly with repeated exposure to the technology of interest;
- An habituation effect of flow was mediated by day;
- Performance was positively correlated to flow”
Personally, I find the thought of making the pleasurable tools and technology in corporate work environment to be very compelling. However, it will be a challenge for many companies to break the misaligned perception that work should not be fun. Regardless, the field of hedonomics is in its early infancy and will need to provide solid ROI numbers before many companies will buy into it.