A Chapter in Review: User Experience Maturity Levels

A Chapter in Review: User Experience Maturity Levels

Written by Andrew Cen of the HCI Games Group. Image sourced from: Games User Research edited by Anders Drachen, Pejman Mirza-Babei, and Lennart E. Nacke.   This blog post was, in all ways, endorsed and sponsored by Games User Research, a book edited by Anders Drachen, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Lennart E. Nacke, with chapters written by many collaborators. It is, in my opinion, seriously a great text if you’re starting your journey to learning about user experience and research. A lot of the concepts pertain and exist outside of the world of games and can be applicable in other applications of UX/UI design and research. The chapter I am reviewing speaks to understanding an entity’s involvement with UX research, and can be found in chapter 5 of Games User Research. The author of this chapter is Graham McAllister, the founder, and director of an award-winning play-testing studio, called Player Research, based in the UK.   Just why is it important to understand where your company, team, or yourself stands within the spectrum of UX maturity levels? Often times many entities can believe they

User Testing for Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets

User Testing for Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets

Written by Karina Arrambide of the HCI Games Group. Figure 1. Woman wearing a VR headset   Virtual Reality headsets have increased in popularity over the past years. As a user, it is always exciting to see new devices and technologies that immerse us in virtual worlds and create an engaging experience. I still remember the first time I tried VR and the fascination I had with this new environment. But it is also interesting to see the challenges and constraints of user testing for VR. As an addition to many usability and user experience issues that traditional user research presents, VR adds more things that we must consider when testing. One of the main issues that developers have encountered with VR headsets is simulation sickness. People are experiencing a whole new dimension, and, in many cases, this can be confusing. For user research, it is a challenge to test participants trying VR because sometimes they are so immersed in the environment that it is difficult to collect valuable data. It is highly probable that we had experienced simulation sickness at some

A Daily Dosage of Toxicity in Dota2

A Daily Dosage of Toxicity in Dota2

A personal opinion article written by Joseph Tu, of the HCI Games Group. “Hey you donkey, you’re a horrible carry,” I said. Oh boy, did it feel great saying that out loud via the in-game voice chat. It was another weeknight and the clock was advancing well beyond 2am. This is how I unwind after the stress of yet another deadline for class at midnight. I was eating Goldfish crackers and regretted not streaming my match on Twitch as I got aggravated again. “Look at our score, we are losing” I replied, “you’re useless!” Never have I found myself being this mean to a person before to such an extent. The most that I have ever been this outraged was when my great grandmother passed away. After watching various replays of myself playing the game in order to improve my performance, I felt that I had learned toxic terms with ease. I noticed even my sentence structure slowly changing when I got ‘flamed’ by other players.   This was different from my other gameplay experiences. When I began playing Dota2,

Dungeon World’s Dice System Is The Core Of Good Game Design (And User Experience)

Written by AC Atienza of the HCI Games Group. Dungeon World is a tabletop game by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel that uses an adapted version of the Powered by the Apocalypse RPG engine. Whenever a player character attempts to do a difficult task, they must roll two six-sided dice to determine the outcome: Rolls of 6 or less are considered failures. Rolls between 7 and 9 are considered “mixed successes”. Rolls of 10 or more are considered successful. In-game modifiers add an average of +1 to the final outcome of a character’s roll, assuming they’re playing to their strengths. As a result, the statistically most probable outcome for most tasks is a “mixed success”. A mixed success means slightly different things depending on the task, but most of the time, the player must make a difficult decision. Here are two examples: If a player tries sneaking past guards but rolls an 8, the Dungeon Master (DM) may tell them that they misstepped and made a conspicuous noise. “You can attack now and keep the advantage of stealth, but your teammates aren’t ready

Games as a Service – the model of Microtransactions

Games as a Service – the model of Microtransactions

  Written by Karina Arrambide of the HCI Games Group. It is no surprise that video games today offer players the opportunity to buy extra content, loot boxes, skins, DLC or expansion packs. It is common that after players buy a game at full price, they start to see messages that encourage them to buy additional content. Games as a Service (or GaaS) represent a revenue model in which video games can be monetized after they are released. Today video games do not act as a product, but as services in the form that additional content is released after the game is launched.  The reason for that is, games are now constantly patched, updated and new content is offered to the players. Different forms of this model exist, some examples include game subscriptions, gaming on demand and microtransactions. And there is a high possibility that as gamers, we have heard of the term “microtransactions”. Microtransactions are low-cost purchases that represent additional content in the game. These purchases can provide new maps, characters, items, weapons or rewards. This type of model started

Understanding Gamification Through Goal-Setting Theory

Understanding Gamification Through Goal-Setting Theory

Written by Gustavo Tondello of the HCI Games Group. Goal-setting theory has been used for decades to explain how to motivate people to perform better in work-related tasks by setting and monitoring goals. Gamification is also inherently a goal-oriented activity, aimed at fostering motivation; therefore, it is logic to expect that these two practices would fit very well together and help us design better motivational experiences. Surprisingly, very few research works so far have seriously explored the use of goal-setting theory to explain and inform gameful design, with most literature focusing more on self-determination theory as the theoretical background for gamification. Therefore, for a recent paper published at HICSS 2018, we decided to conduct a literature review and a conceptual investigation of gamification through the lens of goal-setting theory. This research had four goals: to identify the current uses of goal-setting theory in gamification research; to explain the principles and common elements of gamification within the framework of goal-setting theory; to understand how goal-setting recommendations can be implemented with gamification; and to understand how goal-setting recommendations can improve gameful design.

CHI PLAY 2017 in beautiful Amsterdam — the Venice of the North

CHI PLAY 2017 in beautiful Amsterdam — the Venice of the North

Written by Dennis Kappen of the HCI Games Group. CHI PLAY 2017 was held in Amsterdam, one of the most relaxed and serendipitous places on earth, where time and transit did wait for you to experience the grandeur of architecture, design and human connections. People were quite helpful, courteous and very eager to show you the way around. CHI PLAY as a conference has always been close to home since my first presentation at the First International Conference on Gameful Design, Research, and Applications — Gamification ’13. This conference was re-christened as CHI PLAY in 2014. Over the past five conferences, CHI PLAY 2017 was my fourth successful publication in this conference series. It was a great privilege and honour to present a chapter from my PhD dissertation at this conference attended by many distinguished scientists, researchers, designers and developers. While CHI PLAY had workshop sessions on 14th and 15th October, I decided to focus on my presentation because I was the first presenter scheduled for the Monday morning session entitled Let’s get physical. Prior to this session there was a fantastic

‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm’ Episode 1: A poignant look into a damaged teenage mind

‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm’ Episode 1: A poignant look into a damaged teenage mind

Written by Wasi Rizvi a Waterloo Computer Engineering alumnus who has been working in the Toronto tech industry since he graduated in 2015. He has been following gaming news outlets since the launch of the N64, and enjoys casually reviewing games in his spare time.   Mental health issues and the anguish they elicit is a topic seldom explored by video games. The concept of thoroughly dissecting the mind of the protagonist to reveal their deep-seated flaws is a task generally left to other mediums of fiction. 2015’s “Life is Strange”, a sleeper hit from publisher Square Enix and developer Dontnod Entertainment, is one of the first games I have played where the player character’s flaws and growth are central to the game thematically and mechanically. In the game, which is best described as an episodic graphic adventure that emphasizes player choice, our heroine Max Caulfield’s signature ability allows her to rewind time and explore the results of different dialogue choices at will. The game does a great job of overwhelming you with choice, as oftentimes no dialogue path seems to

CHI 2017 Impressions

CHI 2017 Impressions

Attending conferences to present your own work and hear about the work of others is an important part of academic life. As HCI (human-computer interaction) researchers, one of the highlights of each one of our years is attending the top conference in our field, CHI (the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems). This year, we attended CHI 2017 to present some of our own research and stay up to date with the latest findings on HCI research. Here are some of our impressions and experiences! Dr. Lennart Nacke Associate Professor and Director of the HCI Games Group Going to CHI is always inspiring and entertaining. The more often I attend the conference, the more the people in my community there feel like a family to me. I have really enjoyed the volunteering that I have done for ACM SIGCHI in the past. This year, I had the pleasure of working on the new SIGCHI website that was unveiled at the conference and organized another special interest group on games research at CHI as well as chaired the subcommittee on games. This

International exchange project with Cyprus Interaction Lab

International exchange project with Cyprus Interaction Lab

Crosspost from SWaGUR.ca. An Exchange with Europe’s Cyprus Interaction Lab Earlier this summer, SWaGUR professor Lennart Nacke visited the Cyprus Interaction Lab visited from the Cyprus University of Technology on an Erasmus exchange for teaching and training of students there and to set up a collaboration with the group to integrate the local training efforts with the SWaGUR training opportunities in Canada. Many of the researchers there are interested in new interaction techniques and learning. Learning is, of course, an essential part of game design and there is an exciting overlap to the research being done in SWaGUR. At the meeting, the researchers discussed better training opportunities for students in Canada and in Cyprus and began a collaboration. As part of the initial Erasmus exchange, the next step was to send a visitor from the Cyprus Interaction Lab to Canada. A Research Visit from Cyprus Andreas Papallas, a Research Fellow at the Cyprus Interaction Lab visited the HCI Games Group at the Games Institute of the University of Waterloo in Canada last week from the Cyprus University of Technology, and presented an overview of design research theory applied to gamification and