Thursday, January 10, 2008

Life as a Series of Click Points

When I designed kids' educational and edutainment games at Edmark and Humongous in the mid to late 90's, we designed around "click points." The idea was that kids mouse around and click just about anything on the screen. We'd make lots of items on the screen "hot," but only some items would lead to actual modules or games. Most of the click points would just animate and do something fun, a dead-end programatically, but still lots of fun for the kids.

While I was in the midst of designing those games, I'd see things in my own world in terms of click points, and often I didn't know whether I should giggle or scream in frustration! I'd see a mailbox on a street corner, for example, and in my imagination I'd see the top slot opening and a giant red tongue coming out, lapping a letter out of an amused (or terrified?!) child's hands. A flower was never just a flower; it became a click point that would release hundreds of beautiful (or terrifying?!) butterflies and insects that would fly all over the screen. Chimneys elicited all kinds of possibilities, as did books, doors, and vehicles!

Although I have no graphic abilities whatsoever, I'd constantly -- and almost subconsciously -- "design" click points out of every day objects in my every day life. It became a bothersome menace after a while and it came to the point that I eagerly waited for my "symptoms" to dissipate!

About a year after I finished work on Blue's Clues, I realized that I could finally look at a mailbox or a door or a flower or a chimney without mentally creating a click point from it. I felt like a schizophrenic who had finally stopped being tormented by demons! (Not that I have personal knowledge or experience with the feelings of an actual schizophrenic, but still.) I felt liberated from my own adorably cute, but somewhat disturbing "demons."

Now, eight years later I am, for some reason that I can't pinpoint, suddenly imagining a stream of click points again! I squeeze the toothpaste tube and envision PeterMax art emerging. I open the dishwasher door and envision the cow running away with the spoon!

And I can't help but wonder if this is a matter of newly creative juices flowing... or of this flu or headcold or whatever it might be that seems to be gripping me suddenly!

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Anonymous said...

How funny! When I worked on the Magic School Bus games, the company that did them (with whom you are familiar!) referred to those silly clickable animations as "shrieking cats." And they were SO fun to think up and animate!


Maria said...

LOL! My cousins have some of those "click-point" style games...even some Blues Clues ones. They LOVE them.

Unknown said...

That's hilarious! Sorry if it makes you nuts but it's pretty funny. I can just see you running around in a computer screen clicking everything to make the 'magic' appear :)

Jen said...

Sounds like creative juices to me. And I loved my son's giggles during those click point games. They were wonderful!

swenglishexpat said...

Imagination is a wonderful thing, what would we do without it?

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