Advent Calendar 2009

21 - Game User Research: Making Games Better

Today, we have more of a slide col­lec­tion. But the main fea­tured pre­sen­ta­tion is the one from Graham McAllister, who is a researcher in video game usabil­i­ty at the University of Sussex in the UK and also runs the com­pa­ny Vertical Slice that spe­cial­izes in User Experience (UX; human per­spec­tive, not qual­i­ty assur­ance) test­ing for games. Most of what I have been research­ing in the past 4 years is already start­ing to be employed in prac­tice by them (quite fas­ci­nat­ing, real­ly).

First, he explains the dif­fer­ent mean­ings of UX jar­gon, such as usabil­i­ty (can I do it?), user expe­ri­ence (do I like it?), user inter­face (how does it look?), inter­ac­tion design (how is the inter­face used?). Then he men­tions that UX is a key fac­tor dri­ving review scores of games (not the tech­ni­cal func­tion­al­i­ty alone), which then dri­ve the sales. He backs up his claims with sales data. However, some games with good reviews may still fail finan­cial­ly. On the oth­er hand, games with bad reviews are not very like­ly to sell well. He then dis­cuss­es two case stud­ies (Assassin’s creed and Bioshock) in terms of suc­cess­ful design intent or game­play flaws. The rise of episod­ic gam­ing demands a high­er lev­el of qual­i­ty even for ver­ti­cal slices of games. He goes on to ana­lyze UX flaws of games defaced by gam­ing mag­a­zine reviews. Continue read­ing