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Game Usability Advancing the Player Experience

ISBN-10: 0123744474
ISBN-13: 9780123744470
Edition: 2008
List price: $49.95 Buy it from $4.99
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Description: Computers used to be for geeks. And geeks were fine with dealing with a difficult and finicky interface--they liked this--it was even a sort of badge of honor (e.g. the Unix geeks). But making the interface really intuitive and useful--think about  More...

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Book details

List price: $49.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
Publication date: 8/12/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 398
Size: 7.50" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 2.354
Language: English

Computers used to be for geeks. And geeks were fine with dealing with a difficult and finicky interface--they liked this--it was even a sort of badge of honor (e.g. the Unix geeks). But making the interface really intuitive and useful--think about the first Macintosh computers--took computers far far beyond the geek crowd. The Mac made HCI (human computer interaction) and usability very popular topics in the productivity software industry. Suddenly a new kind of experience was crucial to the success of software - the user experience. Now, 20 years later, developers are applying and extending these ideas to games. Game companies are now trying to take games beyond the 'hardcore' gamer market--the people who love challenge and are happy to master a complicated or highly genre-constrained interface. Right about now (with the growth of interest in casual games) game companies are truly realizing that usability matters, particularly to mainstream audiences. If it's not seamless and easy to use and engaging, players will just not stay to get to the 'good stuff'. By definition, usability is the ease with which people can emplo a particular tool in order to achieve a particular goal. Usability refers to a computer program's efficiency or elegance. This book gives game designers a better understanding of how player characteristics impact usability strategy, and offers specific methods and measures to employ in game usability practice. The book also includes practical advice on how to include usability in already tight development timelines, and how to advocate for usability and communicate results to higher-ups effectively. 1. AUTHORITATIVE: The book brings together the foremost experts in game usability, including great minds from Microsoft, Maxis, Sega, Ubisoft, Sony Online, Nintendo). 2. PRACTICAL: The book gives readers instantly applicable theory and tactics for designing game usability methods to improve and enhance games. Designers can pick methods to suit their needs (example Lazarro's 4 Fun Keys theory to help organize designer decisions.) 3. INSPIRING NEW TECHNIQUES: Contributors are at the vanguard of using physiological techniques (like measuring heart rate, tiny muscle movements, and so forth in players as they play) to measure success and game play experience - cutting-edge, future-facing techniques. 4. CAREER-ENHANCING: Suggestions included on selling usability to managers, and how best to report results.

Associate Professor, Department of Language, Literature and Communication, RPI; Director of the Games Research Lab, RPI; Chair of the MS in HCI Program, RPI. Katherine is Director of the Games Research Lab at Rensselaer (RPI), where she has worked to build an undergraduate major in game design, as well as a robust program of games-related research. She is also the Chair of the MS in HCI at RPI, which she helped to redesign to address current challenges facing HCI practitioners, such as the design of games and other social and leisure applications. Katherine is a former MK Game author, having written: Better Game Characters by Design: A Psychological Approach, which was nominated for a Game Developer Magazine Front Line award in 2006. She has published work in a wide variety of venues, and has given invited talks at research and academic venues including Sony research labs in Japan, Banff Centre in Canada, IBM, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and others. The Games Research Lab at RPI has cutting-edge facilities for user studies, and Isbister has used the lab to research innovative methods in user testing (e.g. the Sensual Evaluation Instrument - a project nominated for Best Paper award at the CHI conference in 2006). Isbister has worked in both research and commercial settings on HCI and usability aspects of games and other products. This background, combined with strong connections to game industry practitioners, makes her well suited to put together an edited volume on games usability that is both rigorous and useful to developers in their everyday work.

Bringing Usability Theory and Practice to Games
Keith Steury, and/or Randy Pagulayan (Microsoft)
What usability is and isn't: Usability Testing vs playtesting or QA testing Kevin Cheng (OK/Cancel) Usability vs challenge AKA Intended challenge vs unintended challenge
(t.b.d.)Leveraging your audience's schemas/metaphors, and recognizing when your game does things that don't match those schemas
(t.b.d.)Test early, test often (perhaps including some discussion of attention to usability in the original design
This has overlap with prototyping
Knowing the User
User needs and motivations
Nicole Lazarro (XEO design)
The four fun keys (Understanding play styles and how they relate to usability of games)
Katherine Isbister (RPI)
Games are social (Testing with groups)
Tsurumi and Hasegawa (Sony)
Culture and usability (Localization and usability)
(Hayan Chen is an alternative author) Debra Lieberman (UCSB) Kids and usability (Testing with children)
Methods Microsoft group
Case study on application of classical usability methods to games Steve Swink (Flashbang Studios)
Prototyping to enable early testing Noah Schaffer(RPI)
Heuristics Sauli Laitinen (Adage Corp)
Expert Evaluation (e.g. Persona Walkthroughs, several experts assess an interface and you compare)
Jettie Hoonhout(Philips Research)
User Testing with Retrospective Think-Aloud Mie Norgard and Yanus (U. of Copenhagen)
Half of your job is Politics
Usability in the Trenches (could break this up: Selling usability in your company, Reporting usability problems and being heard without making enemies)
Measures Regan Mandryk (U. of Saskatchewan) Combined physiological measures Hazlett and Benedik(Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Microsoft)Muscle movement measures Peter Vorderer (formerly USC)Enjoyment measures (alternative author Wijnand Ijsselsteijn)
Special Contexts Janneke Verhaegh (Eindhoven U. of Tech.)
Usability in Educational Games Ermi and Mayra (U. of Tampere, Finland)
Usability for Mobile Games Jane McGonigal (formerly 42 Entertainment)
Usability for Ubiquitous Games
Pulling it all Together Isbister and Schaffer (RPI)Recommendations for incorporating the methods discussed into the development process; pointers to further resources
Key Contributors: Top of their Field: their careers and contributions
Randy Pagulayan: User Research Lead, Microsoft Game Studios
Most recent project has been working on Halo 3 (see September Wired article. Nicole Lazarro: CEO of XEO Design. One of the first people in the industry to systematically study the user experience of games, has consulted to most of the big game companies (e.g. Maxis, Sega, Ubisoft, Sony Online)
Katherine Isbister: Frequent speaker at GDC (Game Developers Conference) on the topic of using social/emotional research to improve game design
Won best of conference DVD in 2004
Wrote MK Game book on Game Character Design nominated for industry award, positively reviewed and cited, used by industry leaders
Debra Lieberman: Professor at UC Santa Barbara, specializing in kids and games and other media
She has worked on games for Nintendo and is a leader in the research community in bridging to industry
Steve Swink: Game designer, instructor, and analyst
An up-and-comer in the independent games area at GDC, who brings rigor to his prototyping and ability to dissect how what he does impacts game play
Writing a forthcoming MK Game book called Game Feel
Sauli Laitinen: Author of this article on Games Usability in Gamasutra
One of the first articles of its kind on the topic in the games press
Regan Mandryk: Currently a professor at University of Saskatc

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