I’m studying about user experiences for games and would like to know more about the process, strategies, prototypes, tests and what is different of usual.
I’ve worked on some game environments with clients, and the general approach I use is more like how the film or animation industries operate when producing a narrative. I come from a film background, but it’s an obvious approach to take.
Because of the focus on visual communication rather than web content, layout conventions become a bit more intuitive and story naturally becomes important. I’ve also been involved in some interactive fiction projects where the player is only exposed to a text interface and has to internally visualise the environment, and in some live-action roleplay (LARP) scenarios used to help people achieve insight into their own human responses under certain pressures or when exposed to otherwise unlikely experiences such as living through extreme events.
There are some obvious things shared by game design and conventional UX design, such as:
Lots of research feeding into development
Consideration for how what is seen/heard on screen affects the player/viewer
Careful awareness of how emotion and behaviour affect engagement
Linearity, duration and lifetime are important factors
Using technical platforms and systems to help create the experience
A clear understanding of the objective you’re aiming for
An understanding of the end-state of your users/players
Collaboration during production of a sophisticated project
A focus on interaction
[/LIST] But, for me at least, game design also spins things up quite a lot. Specifically:
Conflict and drama become a lot more important,
You can take things a lot wider with multiple channels as part of the same sensory experience
There is a focus on the creation, and enhancement, of a storyworld that drives people to engage and relate
Experimentation with alternate social environments and interactions
Greater scope for challenging the audiences moral or ethical beliefs
The interaction between people players within a storyworld emulates a real experience more effectively
There is often a somewhat scripted (or intended direction) for how the concept will be played by an audience, or which avenues are most likely
A much bigger emphasis on manipulating the audience to achieve an immersive experience, or the impression of one
Meaningful choices become a lot more important to game play
The physical environment can often be used more effectively
[/LIST] I use a bunch of techniques from the standard UX toolbox, but which are also well known in film and game design too:
Plotting, experience mapping
Interviews with people within your intended audience, or which feature within the environment (subject matter experts)
Contextual enquiry, visual documentation
Scenarios, scene breakdowns
Use cases, workflow diagrams
Understanding pain points, pressures, motivations and other nuggets of an experience
Visual storyboards and comics
Low fidelity prototypes
Character development, personas
Visualising data to understand complex interactions and outcomes
Producing films/visuals/stimulus material to explore how the current vision/concept is working or not working
Gaining an understanding of how people may react or behave when given a particular stimulus
Developing proof-of-concept software or hardware
Usability testing / Play-testing / A/B testing
Collaborative design sessions
Closed beta launch
[/LIST] You may like to check out some of Lance Weiler’s projects, particularly “Pandemic 1.0” (for the Sundance Film Festival) and “Lyka’s Adventure” (a learning project for younger students). I spent some time with Lance during a project and he is a great mix of storyteller, entrepreneur and experience designer, both on and offline: http://www.lanceweiler.com/
A good summary, especially for how online design can be made more playful, is John Ferrara’s “Playful Design” published by Rosenfeld. It has a foreword by Sunni Brown (who wrote another of my favourite books ‘The Doodle Revolution’).
I hope that gives a bit of an overview, Jonathan? Happy to answer more specific questions too.
I’m really into playing PC games, so I’m finding this topic very interesting! Thanks for bringing it up Jonathan
I sometimes look across at the game design industry and think that they’ve given themselves permission to take things a lot further, and that it has resulted in them maturing some things a bit quicker than we have in UX and online design. They’re a source of inspiration!