The Art of Game Design is a primer for anyone interested in designing video games, but also an invaluable resource for anyone who spends a lot of time thinking about how people interact with the world around them, whether it is environments, products, advertising, or interfaces.
Experiences without feedback are frustrating and confusing. At many crosswalks in the United States, pedestrians can push a button that will make the DON’T WALK sign change to a WALK sign so they can cross the street safely. But it can’t change right away, since that would cause traffic accidents. So the poor pedestrian often has to wait up to a minute to see whether pressing the button had any effect. As a result, you see all kinds of strange button-pressing behavior: some people push the button and hold it for several seconds, others push it several times in a row, just to be safe. And the whole experience is accompanied by a sense of uncertainty — pedestrians can often be seen nervously studying the lights and DON’T WALK sign to see if it is going to change, because they might not have pushed the button correctly.
What a delight it was to visit the United Kingdom, and find that in some areas the crosswalk buttons give immediate feedback in the form of an illuminated WAIT sign that comes on when the button has been pushed, and turns off when the WALK period has ended! The addition of some simple feedback turned an experience where a pedestrian feels frustrated into one where they can feel confident and in control.