Examples on the reciprocal relationship between activities and tools

“Activities shape the requirements of particular tools, and the application of the tools begins to reshape dimensions of activity.”

iPod Touch

When planning on the next generation of ipod, Apple wanted a better view for photos and videos, and a more intuitive way of interaction. As a result, they integrated the multi-touch function and the 3.5 inch screen in the new ipod touch. So firstly, activities have shaped the requirements of tools here.

As there’s no camera integrated in ipod touch, the photo function is more or less unnecessary. I don’t often load photos from my computer to ipod. However, I found the scale of the anime books I downloaded from internet (every page is a .jpg file) fit in the screen perfectly. Characters on every page are fairly clear. I can also turn to next page by simply flick on the screen. This makes me feel like reading a real anime book. I’ve also exported some of Jeff’s readings from .pdf to .jpg files and loaded them onto my ipod touch. So that I can continue my reading on bus or while waiting in the Informatics lobby. So secondly, the application of the tools begins to reshape dimenstions of activity in my example.

Warcraft III

When designing Warcraft III, designers in Blizzard already had plenty of RTS designing experiences from former works: Starcraft, Warcraft II and Warcraft I. They had also gained experiences from other RTS games, such as the Age of Empires. They had a great knowledge of which parts of the activities in a RTS game were necessary, which parts they could do better and also more creative way of entertaining. In a word, they have a clear mind of the game activities they want to design. So those intended design of activities shaped the Warcraft III – the tool. In order to give the players freedom of designing their own map, Blizzard also integrated powerful map editor in Warcraft III.

As Warcraft III was becoming more and more popular, players found the revolutionary hero mechanism of this game pretty interesting. Every single hero has different skills and attributes. Some players were considering creating games in which they can only control one or more heroes to fight. Then they could enjoy the heroes more thoroughly. So they used the powerful map editor integerated with the game to make maps with only hero control. All the sub-games of Warcraft III have been generated since then. Some of the pretty popular ones are: Defense of the Ancients, 3C and a number of warcraft RPGs. The conclusion is, the applications of tools have reshaped the dimentions of activities once again.

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