Happy Tuesday morning, and welcome back to a fresh new issue of The Acagamic Tip Tuesday.
Here is a short UX tip, some useful links, and a research finding from the world of UX Research & Design for games.
This will only take a few minutes to read.
Game UX Tip of the Week
Forgiving Interaction Design: When the player is still learning game actions or interaction is required suddenly, give a grace period or extra support for the player to learn to provide input.
Many games feature moments when they teach mechanics to the player or when sudden actions are required. The actions are usually prompted and then a player's reaction time needs to be accounted for (particular when the action is new). Games tend to do this with using a shader or a dialogue element and they slow down time to give the player a grace period to react to the interaction prompt. It's like a virtual safety net for the player that provides some margin of error for the to provide the prompted interaction.
In Ghost of Tsushima and many other console action games, there is a grace period or time delay when an environmental change reaction is required.
In my other example, we have a great accessibility feature of the New Super Mario Bros. series, where the game allows you to activate the Super Guide (Luigi plays through the level for you) if you struggle to complete a particularly difficult level.
Both of these are great examples of forgiving interaction design in games. The benefits are that they account for errors of players in different ways. Some errors may be related to the difficulty setting or level design and other errors relate directly to player skill. By making your game have grace periods and player assists (think the steering assist in Super Mario Kart 8 as well), your game is not only more accessible to a wider range of players, but you are also giving players the option to learn your game slowly.
- How First-Party Switch Games Approach Assist Features - a nice article about how assist features are implemented in Nintendo Switch games and why games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild don't have it.
- Designing for forgiveness - An article about how designing for forgiveness can be empowering and how this relates to our mental models and, hence, affordances.
- Forgiveness in UI design - an early article with lots of web examples (specifically from Google) of how forgiveness in design works.
- Design principle: Error & Forgiveness - another article that illuminates the error-handling side of forgiving design.
Apple announced their new tool Freeform this week. What other whiteboarding apps are already out there? In UX, we love using whiteboard apps when we cannot use real-life sharpies and stickies. Here is a list of all 10 other whiteboarding apps I know so you have the links for them when you need them.
- inVision Freehand
- Google Jamboard
- Zoom Whiteboards
- Microsoft Whiteboard
- Box Canvas
→ Which ones did I forget?
→ What is your favourite UX whiteboarding app?
Games Research Find of the Week
In this CHI paper, the authors investigate how to bridge the physical and digital divide in games through fabrication (meaning activities like laser cutting or 3D printing game objects in real life). Their study is based on a toolkit for integrates fabrication within digital games that they have already built. Their tool allows players to create real-life objects that are associated with their creativity and self-expression in the game.
They studied 12 people doing fabrication with 47 gameplay moments within 33 different games. The researchers classify the created real-life objects into the following categories based on what associations players have with them:
- Objects of pride. Rare assets or objects related to winning the game. These commemorate achievements.
- Objects of creativity. Customized assets or newly created game assets. These show players' self-expression.
- Object as a resource. Mindfulness about limited resources in gameplay. These remind players of their resourcefulness.
- Object of function. Things that allow a player to progress in the game world, like a game map. These are support objects to gameplay in the physical world.
- Object of shared memory. Game events that are shared by multiple players can serve as great memories of gameplay. These serve as reminders of shared social experiences.
Their hope is that this provides an interesting first step to integrating digital and physical worlds. Just imagine if you could print your own Amibos and share them back with friends. I think there is lots of potential here.
Read the full study:
Dishita G Turakhia, Stefanie Mueller, and Kayla DesPortes. 2022. Identifying Game Mechanics for Integrating Fabrication Activities within Existing Digital Games. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 87, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1145/3491102.3517721
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