User Experience in Games


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.


That sounds really interesting @Jonathan_Gabetta
No doubt you’re just as adept at Googling as I am, but this article is certainly an interesting read.


Hi Jonathan,

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
[]Affinity mapping
[]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
]Mental models
[]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:

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 :slight_smile:


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!