Unpacking the Myth of the Intuitive

Marketing from Apple, Nintendo, and other companies focuses on the promise of an intuitive interface, but what does that really mean and how is it achieved? Over the last few decades we’ve seen QWERTY keyboards give way to an incredible diversity of interfaces: mice, trackpads, motion wands, voice-based interfaces, cameras, touch screens, and even real instruments. These devices are regarded as increasingly "natural" or "intuitive", but this marketing-speak is ill-defined, unactionable, and potentially insulting to users; if they don’t get it, are they "unnatural" or stupid? In this talk, I will explore the concept of the intuitive, using case studies from Engelbart’s early work on computer-human interaction, Miyamoto’s work for the NES and the Wii, and my own work at Harmonix on Rock Band and Dance Central. I will ultimately arrive at a new set of goals for interfaces.