I’ve been trying to capture “what it is” about software that has a sense of fun, is toylike, and which allows users to feel they are directly manipulating “real” objects that they more-or-less understand. I want to shorten the link with pen pointers instead of mice. That’s a lot of words. There’s something more basic.
Touchability. I think human beings are uniquely wired to fondle stuff, and to want to do so. My dog sniffs and tastes. Ants use their antennae. We comprehend and alter the world with our hands. I play with my so-touchable wine glass, but not with the utilitarian water glass next to it. No child can resist touching a musical instrument left out, particularly strings and pianos because they don’t need lips. I always reach for my leather coat before my ski jacket. Bad Flash sites are visually stimulating, but good ones make me want to touch it all over to be rewarded with workings and sounds.