Lessons from Jetpack Joyride

I’m a very casual gamer. I find few games fun enough to play regularly.

One game I play often on my phone is Jetpack Joyride (iPhone). It has so many simple, fun, clever things going for it that it has held up well over time. Its a one button game (tiny learning curve).

Luke Muscat, the game’s designer, gave a talk about learning from failure. His thoughts help explain why the game is so fun to play. The folks at Failcon wrote a summary of his talk:

Jetpack Joyride is designed to make the player fail. Over. And Over. And Over.  In fact, it relies on the user not only failing but enjoying it so much that they stick around and share it with friends.  With millions of downloads, clearly it’s working.

This is the opposite of how we tend to think about success and failure. The design of the game embraces failing.

Reward Failure:  In Jetpack Joyride, with your ultimate death comes an immediate reward screen recognizing your progress, any mission goals you accomplished, and offering you a slot machine chance for any coin you picked up.  This can be pretty easily practiced with yourself and employees, too.  When encountering a failure (either personal or amongst employees), focus less on the problem that happened and more on what risks were taken, what was learned, and how this is going to improve the process down the road.  Keep yourself and the team feeling engaged with the organization, and show that each failure does contribute to the final product.  Make it very clear that taking well-informed, relevant risks is a good thing.

Read the full post here. Also take a look at Failcon 2012: an event about learning from failure.

One Response to “Lessons from Jetpack Joyride”

  1. Kav Latiolais

    Been loving Super Meat Boy for the same reason. The game itself is punishingly difficult. Respawns are instantaneous and when you finish a level it replays all your attempts in one run resulting in a crowd racing to the finish and all failing sans one. The cost of failure is low and ultimately accrues to a more satisfying replay upon success. Combine that with the amazing feeling of mastery that success brings and it’s an amazingly addictive experience.



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