Beyond straightforward experiences

Most reading I've done thus far about "experience design" seems determined to provide straightforward experiences. This is a logical thing to do considering the users' proclivities for getting lost, disoriented, discouraged and overwhelmed. By making it clear: where everything is, how to move through the options smoothly and how to formulate realistic expectations, the users will likely be satisfied with their experiences.

Storytellers avoid putting their readers, viewers or gamers through straightforward experiences. Straightforward is boring, derivative, predictable and disenchanting. Experiences need mystery and surprise. Storytellers want the user to be disoriented on occasion. By getting lost, the audience gets the experience of discovering and reclaiming their control. By getting faced with unknowns, the information provided becomes an experience of relief, support, or comfort.

I wonder why most experience designers don't mess around with reversals of plot and character?  Could it be they are driven by high control needs and a low tolerance of ambiguity? Are they afraid of user confusion, disorientation and dissatisfaction? Are they confined to the linearity of consistent content delivery models that necessarily forego detours and backtracking. Do they assume no one wants timeouts to rethink their "map in mind"?

When the character in a story suddenly gets upended after being on a roll, we're enchanted. When good fortune goes awry or a string of bad luck ends with a breakthrough, we find the story captivating. When we plod along in a predictable sequence of events, only to get surprised by an unforeseen change, we want to know what happens next.

I wonder if typical experience designers will experience a turnaround when they realize they're on a path that is too straightforward?

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