I finally got that Aston Martin I always wanted – the DB9 with the naturally aspirated 12-cylinder engine. It seems like a lifetime since I started saving for itâ€¦finally that moment arrived. I drove it off the lot and took it out on a road course. Iâ€™m surprised how well it handles for a car thatâ€™s completely stock; it seems like I have to spend a fortune on my Porsches before they are truly track worthy.
I made my riches as an industrial designer. Iâ€™ve worked on a variety of products from mobile phones to televisions to medical equipment. With each new project comes the unique challenge of trying to connect with an end user, trying to get inside the head of that person as they walk into a store and imagine themselves with this product that Iâ€™m currently imagining.
Designers have to reach outside themselves to make that true connection. Great designers donâ€™t design for themselves they design for others. It’s exactly this aspect of what we do that separates us from artists and turns our art into design. Itâ€™s probably the first rule of design.
Of course, thatâ€™s really more of a guideline than a rule and such was the case when we were asked to design the Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel.
I always get really excited about the projects I work on. I love creating something new and constructing stories and experiences around the products I contribute to. Itâ€™s why I do what I do. But this time was different. This time I wasnâ€™t just contributing to the story; I was part of it.
Iâ€™m a gamer. A gamer-designer that got the chance to design for other gamers. Never has it been so easy to get inside the minds of the target audience. I am that audience as are many of my teammates – and, of course, our client.
Overall, the project went smoothly – a classic textbook industrial design effort. Internally we established the mantra: Passion, Performance, Pride to help guide in decision-making. The words were as much about the consumer as they were about the solution.
Each step led effortlessly into the next. No major snags. No significant changes. We had all taken a deep breath and with Zen-like calm designed a product. There wasnâ€™t a day that went by while working on the project that I didnâ€™t imagine how much better the racing experience – my racing experience – would be once I got the chance to put my hands on this product.
And finally, that chance came.
I transitioned from being a designer of a product to being a consumer of that product. The project days were long gone and I now had the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of our labor.
This was a new experience for me. Iâ€™ve used products that Iâ€™ve designed before, but never something I was fanatical about. In this rare coincidence of business and leisure lay my first experience with a product that I knew was made for me.
Passion, Performance and Pride held true. My lap times are down, my scores are up, I spend a lot less on repairs and, above all, I completely forget that Iâ€™m playing a game. It’s truly thrilling to experience a variety of cars in all their nuance. I feel as though I could get behind the wheel of a real Enzo and not make a total idiot of myself (if any one wants to prove me wrong, Iâ€™d be happy to take your Enzo for a test drive).
The force feedback and rumble features accurately articulate the differences between a front-wheel drive car and one that is rear-wheel drive or the difference between 150 and 700 horse power. The materials add a solidity and tactility that convince the driver they are in a real car exactly as planned. The gaming communities have reviewed and critiqued all aspects of the product â€“ many of them picking-up on details that I thought would never get noticed and validating the solution as greater than the sum of its parts.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my exciting journey from designer to consumer to racecar driver. From the first days of discovering opportunities with the client to agonizing every last draft angle with the engineers, I get to enjoy this rich experience again and again.
And with that, Iâ€™m off to take my Maserati for a spin. Now where did I leave my keysâ€¦