Games testing: Gaming UX research
Video games have come a long way in a very short space of time. More and more people are spending their leisure time gaming, the once very niche pastime has opened up to include almost everyone. As well as offering our eye tracking and usability services we can team our Emotion Response Analysis service to provide in depth analysis for the gaming industry. Usability testing is now more common place during the development cycle to guarantee a successful product.
Why do gaming research with us?
- Eye tracking – Using our eye tracker we can see what users are drawn to and what they ignore, as well as what is distracting them from their journey.
- In-depth interviews – By playing back the eye tracking to the users we can find out detailed opinions and reasons behind their actions.
- Video recording – As well as audio we also record video of the users so you can see their facial expressions as they play.
- EEG – We can also use our EEG headset to monitor the users’ engagement, frustration, short term and long term excitement while they play.
- Gaming systems – From PC games to home consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii) to mobile devices and tablets (iOS and Android) we can test on them all.
- Natural behaviour – Our methods allow us to record the users’ natural behaviour and experience in a natural environment.
- Recruitment – We recruit members of the public that match with your target demographic, the right audience for the right testing.
- Deliverables – We can deliver a full usability report including recommendation for change on key points, highlight videos including eye tracking overlaid and a presentation and a workshop where we cover the findings and help you work through possible solutions.
It’s not Quality Assurance you know, and here’s why…
Quality Assurance (QA) is an integral part of the development cycle and involves a room full of gamers playing through the game in every conceivable in way to identify bugs that will prevent users from completing the game. QA testers aim to find all unintentional problems by repeatedly playing through a game
Usability testing, on the other hand, looks at how the player plays the game and their behaviour towards it in a natural environment and how they receive and react to the intentional aspects of the game.
While QA looks to identify the ‘what’, usability testing looks at the players’ experiences with the game in order to identify the ‘why’.
Why is there a need to conduct Video Game Usability Testing?
Two of the underlying principles of video game usability testing are ‘Do the users understand how to play the game properly?’ and ‘Are they enjoying it?’ By researching these points, the results of the testing can improve the players’ experience with the game and the overall customer satisfaction.
We are able to use eye tracking to see exactly what is grabbing attention and then retrospectively play this back to the user to find out what their thoughts and feelings were at that specific time. This helps to accurately pinpoint areas in the game which work well as opposed to those that have less of an impact. Added to this we can use Emotion Response Analysis. This involves using an EEG headset, which will monitor emotions such as engagement, frustration and excitement. Again, working alongside the eye tracking you can see, in real time, exactly what is causing certain reactions from the user. As a result of understanding the users’ perceptions of, and interactions with, the video game we can identify what they understand from the game, whether they find the game fun to play and any aspects of the game the feel do not work.
It is normal that usability testing is left until the end of the development cycle before it is considered, but it should be the other way round. The golden rule when considering when to conduct video game usability testing is to start as early as possible, providing a constant stream of feedback. By performing usability testing earlier on, we can highlight potential issues much earlier in the development cycle and give you much more time to make any necessary changes. Changes which would be much more difficult to make once the game is an almost finished state.
What are the benefits?
Finding out what the users expect from the game bridges the divide between the game designer and the end user. With the feedback from the target audience, this enables the designers to make the important changes to improve the user experience and to ensure a better end product.
We will gather data on both what players say, do, think and feel, which will help to prioritize any changes necessary for the game prior to releasing. You, as the developer, can watch all of this in real time, before we then produce a full report recommending both changes and highlighting areas for improvement. This then results in offering a better experience to the user. Any negative issues regarding their experience and enjoyment will have been solved throughout the testing.
With so many games to choose from on the market, users will not waste their time and money on a bad game when they can get a better, more enjoyable experience with a different game.