Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fun, games and research

And checking on the work of Melissa Federoff, I found that she has written a thesis on Heuristics and usability guidelines for the creation and evaluation of fun in video games, and for those who like me wonder why bother with heuristics and what it is:
Why bother with heuristics?
Usability heuristics are identified usability principles that trained evaluators use to assess the goodness of software design. This particular usability evaluation method is rather quick and inexpensive, usually requiring three to five evaluators each spending one to two hours to do two passes through an interface while producing a list of heuristic violations (Nielsen, 1994). Heuristics also provide a clear understanding of the principles with which a design is built.

This tool, typically used to evaluate the usability of software interfaces, could also be helpful in evaluating the usability of games. In game development, game heuristics could be used to produce successful games more consistently; in other types of software development, a list of game heuristics could be used to find ways to incorporate fun into new products to possibly increase customer satisfaction. Game heuristics have not yet been identified and verified through research, though conceptually would work much like the existing heuristics. They would be guidelines for the creation and evaluation of a usable game. If a usable game is one that satisfies the user by providing entertainment, then game heuristics should encompass design elements that ensure the satisfaction of the user.

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