Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mobile game usability 1.

Definition of usability
Usability is not a one-dimensional property. It has many overlapping components; some even contradict one another. In most cases, usability is associated with the following attributes:

Satisfaction -
A subjective feeling of contentment
Efficiency -A minimal amount of time wasted
Learnability - Degree of ease when starting to use the system
Errors - Number of errors the user makes and degree of seriousness
Memorability - How well the user remembers the system when returning to it

Game usability needs to be differentiated from playability, which refers to a user's overall experience with a certain game. The most comprehensive definition of playability states: The degree to which a game is fun to play, with an emphasis on the interaction style and plot-quality of the game; the quality of gameplay. Playability is affected by the quality of the storyline, responsiveness, pace, usability, customizability, control, intensity of interaction, intricacy, and strategy, as well as the degree of realism and the quality of the graphics and sound.
The importance of the usability factors mentioned in the table above varies — for example, in a flight-booking system for expert use, efficiency and lack of errors are very important, but for an information kiosk, learnability, memorability, and satisfaction are higher priorities.
Game applications are not terribly complicated when compared with word-processing applications, for example. Mobile games are typically played for quite brief periods of time. They are played for enjoyment or challenge, which pose different usability needs. The special nature of games, especially mobile games with their small screens, creates special needs for their user interface.

Care must be taken to ensure that the game interface and concept are pleasing to the user. This also means lack of distress and irritation. The key to usability is simplicity — a complex solution is itself a problem. Efficiency is not a particularly important usability attribute for games, at least not in and of itself. In the end, of course, efficiency produces satisfaction and it must not be ignored; however, the user is not usually trying to leave the game as soon as possible
The most important of all usability criteria is simple: Know the user. In order to design a product, a designer must know the audience pottery barn kids. Making guesses about the age or education level of the users is a risky foundation for a business.

Even with demographic data at hand, it is not always clear what conclusions to draw. With mobile games, it is essential yugioh card to know where they are being played, for how long at a sitting, in what situations, how they are paid for, what the function of playing is, and so on. All of these factors need to be considered in the design.