How to Design for Player Perception over Accuracy (Acagamic Tip Tuesday #9)

the acagamic tip tuesday Apr 12, 2022
Mario posing in front of a jump curve diagram.

Welcome back to The Acagamic Tip Tuesday.

Each Tuesday, I will send you a tip from the world of UX Research & Design for games. At my website The Acagamic, I focus on training people to become better researchers and designers for games and beyond. What I’ll try this week is adding a tip from the world of games research.

Each tip will only take a few minutes to read.

Game UX Tip of the Week

Perception over accuracy: Always design for player perception, not for real accuracy.

You probably heard that the first bullet an enemy fires at you always misses and that many first-person shooter games have some form of aim assist to help you hit your targets better.

The same is true for platformers. Many players move a bit too far and would fall to death if the jumping was 100% accurate. The trick lies in player perception. There is a limit to human reaction time. The average human reaction time is 0.25 seconds. The game Celeste deals with this by giving you a short grace time to jump after moving off a ledge. Mario dealt with it by using a double jump.

Either way, test how your players perceive a game control and focus on designing for that perception, not for a realistic representation.

Here is Mario 64 doing an even more amazing jump.

Three Game UX Tweets

Two Links

Pixelblog UX/UI Design Basics

Wordle UX: Sometimes a game just feels good by Joe Bernstein

UX Game Research Tip of the Week

In a 2013 study, people (23 out of 48 in the training group), who played Super Mario 64 for two months for at least 30 min per day, changed their brain’s spatial navigation processing.

They changed from navigating based on their own position in the world (egocentric navigation) to navigating the world based on the relative location of other objects in it (allocentric navigation). This was shown by a gray matter and size increase in participants’ hippocampi, the seahorse-shaped part of your brain responsible for memory.

The scientists also argued that because of this area’s increase, playing Super Mario 64-type games could be used to offset post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and neurodegenerative disease. Bold claims.

Read the full study

Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R. et al. Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Mol Psychiatry 19, 265–271 (2014).

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