Entertaining Design

Applying these entertainment-based strategies will ensure attentiveness and compel audiences and users to lean-in to the content.

Compete With Pop-Culture

  • Use production methods and genres, such as animation, live-action video and games, that can compete with entertainment media in popular culture.

Build Expectations

  • The medialorbitofrontal cortex is believed to manage our expectations. Setting expectations high makes everything that follows seem better.

  • Including a brief, early introduction to the material that sets the overall emotional tone can build expectations.

  • Three ways to optimize expectations are:

    • Blended experience: our expected experience will blend with our actual experience to create a perceived experience

    • Anticipation: our dopamine levels will be elevated by the anticipation of an unknown reward

    • Anticipation renewal: we will need to continue to build new and novel anticipation periodically and systematically within any one single experience to maintain the dopamine levels.

Maintain Anticipation

  • Maintain an anticipatory state in the user or audience by creating ongoing new and novel experiences through variety in production styles, narrative surprises, achievements and novel interactivity.

Write To The Audience

  • Create content narratives and visual design from or to the point of view of the target audience.

Use a Story Structure

  • Stories are a tried and true method for wrapping context around information in a way draws an audience into a deeper level of engagement. Nearly any material can be organized into this fundamental, structural core, of story-telling.

    • Life in balance: define the world in its natural, normal state. This should include a protagonist and antagonist (which could be a character, the self, an environment, a quest, a puzzle, a situation, etc).

    • Set-up: Present a problem or conflict that is caused by the antagonist

    • Body: the problem or conflict becomes more difficult to overcome due additional antagonists.

    • Resolution: the problem is solved and balance restored... or not.

Include a Moral Conundrum

  • This is the single most common element that is included in nearly every blockbuster film and book. It taps into our most intimate emotions and mirrors one of the most complicated human experiences that we all share.


Use this Slideshow to present a summary version of the Entertainment Design framework to your class or group.

4-entertainment-I. S.E.E. U.

Authors: Bill Fischer & Susan Bonner