Many successful apps and games have already been mentioned in this book with some of their core features analyzed. When it comes down to examining just why they've been a hit, however, usually there are many theories, ranging from right place and right time, to marketing, entertainment value, addictive gameplay, amazing graphics, and so on. Yet, one of the most fascinating and least-discussed elements (even in game or app reviews — which means that it's typically taken for granted) also happens to be a critical component to user interaction and interface design: metaphors.

If you know how to build this one component into your game or app, you'll get more identification, engagement, and often retention as a result. Let's take a deeper look at one of the key components that makes any game or app mysteriously more engaging and intuitive without users necessarily taking notice. The term “mysterious” is used because of the element's being taken for granted in good apps as that special ingredient that just makes it click with users.

Using Physical Metaphors to Delight Your Audience

Even in the earliest computer interfaces, as a means to get a grip on the mental model of binary data, designers and engineers came up with the term files for individual collections of bits with a certain purpose, folders for storing collections of files, windows for collections of folders, trash for deleting these, and other such metaphors rooted in the physical world. The core ...

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