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What if Architecture Fused with Game Design?

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Free-Photos | Pixabay


Is all of life a game-like journey? Or is the journey more of an experiential process with no real end-goal? Whatever life seems to be at a given moment, it is interesting to consider what physical environments would be like if they were designed with a gaming mentality.

Game design theories and principles can help designers to do more than simply integrate “reward” into an experiential journey. For example, an environment could tell a story that gives the journey a different and deeper meaning. (This would give rewards a renewed value for the receiver.) Yet, there is a critical question that remains: How can designers improve environments by integrating game creation principles? That is, how can environments use game design to evoke emotion, thought, or even behavior at just the right time? At the most basic level, one might imagine that an architectural building is a real-world game where one travels through collecting points or navigating a challenge-filled path. Yet, at more advanced levels, the point where game and architecture fuse, is the point where building occupants can use architectural-gaming interfaces to expand human potential and performance.


An architectural-game environment could take on the following forms:

ARCHITECTURE OF GOALS: This is an environment that uses interaction with occupants to help them achieve particular goals they would like to realize.

ARCHITECTURE OF JOURNEYS: This is an environment that reveals a “story” as one experiences the built environment – whether traveling through it or simply spending time there.

ARCHITECTURE OF BALANCE: This is an environment that strives to maintain or keep different moving metrics or parts in equilibrium.

ARCHITECTURE OF BEAUTY: This is an environment that uses variations in behavior to create different forms of beauty through its architectural language.

ARCHITECTURE OF INFINITY: This is an environment that nurtures its occupant to progress as high as they would like – without an “ending” that would cap their progress.

As you can see, the above examples of architectural-game environments are only the beginning. The ability to fuse gaming principles with real-world environments poses an almost endless multitude of new design opportunities and challenges. As a designer, I invite you to consider if your architectural environments use any of the above listed forms within it, or if integrating one of the latter forms could help it reach more poetic heights. The key is to create architecture that “speaks” to occupants to help them uplift relationships with themselves, with each other, and with their surrounding context.

If life can be seen as a game, then architecture can mirror this – during those vital moments when it can make all the difference.


what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is an award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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