Stop reading ...

Published on 
3 min, 436 words

Categories: podcast work

I read a lot but this post is about being encouraged to stop reading.

Or more accurately, providing people with only the instructions they need and making them easier to comprehend. In an interview with Matthew Inman and Elan Lee they talk about the creation of the popular game "Exploding Kittens".

One of the issues they identified with a lot of other games was the number of rules and the length of the instructions. This proved a real barrier to people playing them. I can relate to this as we were gifted the highly rated game "Ticket to Ride". We sat down to try it and gave up as the instructions were too convoluted and involved more investment of time than we wanted - it has sat on the shelf ever since.

Anyway, they spent a lot of time writing and rewriting the instructions for their new game. They came to the realisation that there are some fundamental aspects and then there are bunch of edge cases that need to be handled.

Instead, you start with the core and you repeat it and you repeat it and you repeat the core of what the game is. Don't explode. Draw a card. Don't explode. Draw a card. Then you throw all your edge cases and all your weird stuff at the very end. That way people at least can get going without having to get mired in all of the details.

He goes on:

Don't explode. Draw a card. Don't explode. Draw a card.

And then there's the giant block that says stop reading. If questions come up, we're pretty sure all those questions are answered on the backside of this page, but you don't even need to read the backside until those questions come up. You've got everything you need. Go play.

So, they put all the really important stuff first and then actively encouraged the player to not bother reading the rest of the rules. Only when something unusual comes up in game play do they need to consult the rest of the instructions. This helps remove a big barrier to engagement with the game.

To an extent the quick start guides that come with most electronic devices and software take a similar approach. They quickly introduce the consumer to only what they need to get started. I do however like the approach taken above of explaining that they can actively ignore the rest until they need it.


Exploding Kittens | Spark and Fire

Exploding Kittens game

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