I’ve been trying to review games for the iPad, but one that’s a classic on both the iPhone and the iPad is the Moron Test by DistinctDev. It’s popular enough to have both a Facebook page and a set of YouTube videos, so for that reason alone it is worthy of a blog post, but it actually presents some very interesting lessons in instructional design in disguise (more on that later).
If you are not familiar with the game, It is a test and you will definitely fail the first time around. Seemingly simple tasks such as pressing a red button 3 times are surprisingly tricky in this game (how can that be?). But if you bring a sense of humor, especially for bad puns, you will be able to overcome all challenges and prove YOU ARE NOT A MORON. And at $0.99 (or 99¢ in plain English), it’s a steal as a game you can torture your friends and recent acquaintances with at parties.
How to Trigger Failure
You may be asking – how can you fail at pressing 3 red buttons? That’s where the magic of hellish interface design comes in. A typical task asks you to press the red button 3 times (or better, not press it at all), but the interface cruelly trips you up. The button may 1) move around or 2) change color, but the most diabolical trap of all is that the interface does nothing after the third click for a good 30 seconds.
We all know what happens when a screen hangs for that long – we press the button again and trigger a fail (Nooooo!). This is funny in the Moron Test, but has real consequences in online applications.
For instance, many ANGEL versions ago, you had the option to delete one item or delete everything in the Lessons area of the course.Most instructors only wanted to delete one item, of course, but there was a bit of a silent lag time between pressing the Delete button and getting feedback that the delete had occurred (about 30-60 sec). So what happened? Instructors pressed the Delete button again…and then they deleted everything. There was a lot of panic and file restores, so it was quickly realized that a better interface was needed. So today, it’s a lot harder, if not impossible, to replicate this scenario (Huzzah!).
More Hidden Traps?
The Moron Test actually presents many instances of bad interface design, bad quiz question writing and other interesting teaching glitches. But I can’t share them all, because that would deny you the chance to learn for yourself.
Instead in the spirit of constructivist instruction, I would invite you to check out the game, either by playing it, reading the questions on the help forums or watching the YouTube videos and post your own comments below. This is the type of casual gaming activity I would use in an instructional design course.