Monday, April 03, 2006

Mobile game user experience

These articles and guidelines have been written from the user-experience point of view. User experience is the result of a motivated action in a certain context. The user’s previous experiences and expectations influence the present experience, and the present experience leads to more experience and modified expectations.These articles and guidelines have been written from the user-experience point of view.
Motivated action always happens in a certain context, and this defines the present experience of the user. The context of an experience means the time, people, place, and things that surround the user. For example, watching a good movie in a theatre with good company is very different from watching the same movie at home, alone, in front of a lousy TV.
A motive is understood here as a need that is driving the user to interact with the game. This need is often emotionally directed. The user has many needs in any situation, but not all of them prompt the readiness to act. Some needs arise from physiological states of tension such as hunger, thirst, and pleasure, and some arise from psychosocial states of tension like the need to enhance self-esteem. A need becomes a motive when it has gained a sufficient level of intensity.
Besides motivational level needs, people have action level needs. Motivational level needs address “why people are doing what they are doing”; action level needs address “how people are doing what they are doing.” Action level needs are cognitive level needs that are related to a mental model of how to conduct an action.
Satisfying the need that motivates a user to interact with a mobile game is not enough to guarantee a positive user experience. Game performance must match or exceed the user’s expectations. User expectations are based on previous experiences, advice from friends and associates, and information and promises from marketers and competitors. If game performance does not match the user’s expectations, the user will be dissatisfied with the product. If performance matches expectations, the user will be satisfied. If performance exceeds expectations, the user will be very satisfied.
Not all product features cause great satisfaction or delight among users, although their absence might be experienced as negative. Moreover, when features that provide great satisfaction become familiar to users, their value may increase. However, in some cases these features may eventually be taken for granted and cease to exceed expectations — these features face value erosion.
Previous user experience can also be a basis for expectations about product performance; therefore, they are mentioned as a separate factor affecting user experience in this conceptual model. This is because previous user experience might increase the user's inclination and readiness to utilize the possibilities of an application in richer ways than in previous use situations. In other words, previous user experience can affect the learning curve for using an application.
The following sections will discuss the three elements of user experience — motivation, action, and context — in more detail, and from a game-developing point of view.