Minesweeper and Solitaire - the hidden education from the misunderstood demon
25 September, 2009 | Web design
When people first started using GUI's (Graphical user interfaces), they needed something that will help them easily pick up the basic functions of something that modern PC users take for granted; the mouse. This is where Minesweeper and Solitaire reared its ugly, counter-productive head...
Invented by Robert Donner and Curt Johnson, two Microsoft employees, Minesweeper has been installed with every Microsoft Windows since Windows 3.1 in March 1992 and has been used to waste time in offices all over the globe. Minesweeper, for those estate agents who are unsure, is a game where a tiled board hides 'mines', that when clicked on, end the game. The aim of the game is to left click on all the spaces between the mines and 'flag' (by right clicking) possible mines.
The roots of Solitaire's history cannot be exactly pinpointed. It is known to have become popular in France around the 19th Century and then spread to the UK and the US in the end of that century. Again, for those estate agents who are unsure, the aim of Solitaire is to sort 7 increasing sizes of card piles (the first pile containing 1 card to the 7th pile containing 7cards) into the 4 different suits in ascending order with the remaining deck of cards.
Countless office hours have been whittled away on these games. In fact in 2006, one man was fired by the Mayor of New York City (Michael Bloomberg) after he saw an open game of Solitaire on the man's work computer. But was the purpose of these two games to reduce the worldwide productivity? One article entitled 'The most successful game ever: a history of Minesweeper' suggests not.
The article suggests that the two games were intentionally built to train or educate users to fully utilise the mouse. Minesweeper was designed to help users master the point-and-click element (users have to point and click to a particular square they believe to be a space or a mine) and solitaire was designed so that users could become skilled at dragging and dropping cards from one point of the screen to another. Both of these functions are now used in everyday for clicking on buttons or dragging and dropping files from one place to another.
Even today these basic functions are used in modern estate agent websites. Take the example of embedded and enhanced Google maps on one of Resource Techniques estate agent websites:
Users and estate agents use the point-and-click function to not only choose the local amenities that they want displayed but also to click on a house that they will be interested in. They also use the drag and drop function to navigate around the Google map to see the houses for sale in the surrounding area. Functions like these are integrated into everyday life without users and estate agents even realising. Maybe the next time you are on an estate agent website and using enhanced Google maps, you'll think of Minesweeper and Solitaire.
Troy Stanley, CTO of Resource Techniques comments, 'Point and click and drag and drop is now second nature to users.'
Troy Stanley continues, Simplistic features, like the enhanced Google Maps with local amenities on estate agent websites, are completely user friendly. Users are able to view a properties location and surrounding points of reference in Map, Satellite and Hybrid view from a simple click.
'An Estate agent website hosting online properties has evolved. They are no longer a long list of properties with limited amount of information; they are places where users can users can view high resolution photos, receive email alerts, print high quality property particulars in a pdf format, see embedded EPCs and HIPs and even view from the property from a satellite to viewing it on the street.' - Troy Stanley.
Resource Techniques specialises in web sites for estate agents, including website design for estate agents, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for estate agents and in-house software for estate agents. contact us on our Twitter profile, Facebook Page or through our contact page. Resource Techniques also provides a free, no obligations website review.