Game UX and Neuroscience: What Lessons for Interaction Design and User Experience?

                    By Julien TarbyWe retain exchanges: The perception of the player is subjective, his fallible memory and his limited attention. UX teams therefore work two essential points: the "usability" (ergonomics, sound effects and visual comprehensible) and the "engageability" (immersion, emotions, motivation, game feel). Elements of the game ("OnBoarding" making competent, mechanisms of identification, challenges …) can be used in other sectors. For this discussion organized in partnership with Adobe , we had invited Celia Hodent ex-director UX of Epic Games (Fortnite game) and Fabrice des Mazery, CPO of Thiga ex-Head of product of Deezer.If the game Fortnite has forged a world wide place of choice between hardcore Gaming and casual gaming is partly because the UX design has been tweaked. The work of Celia Hodent – doctor in cognitive psychology who started in the video game 10 years ago at Ubisoft and has emerged as a specialist in Game UX (1) – paid in the global success of the game. Are we customizing and streamlining the player's journey – each one's brain … The mental model of the product designed must be aligned with what the end user will understand about the game, which will is not necessarily a small affair. It is important to use psychology and method, to define the experience, to understand the audience in order to better organize the player's interactions with the image of the system. "We need to know the limitations and cognitive biases of our brain so to design affordable games that challenge the gamers, "Celia Hodent.To learn, the perception and memory of the user come into play. The one that multiplies the Master Class on the UX precisely emphasizes the differences in perception of users . "Everyone has understood that ergonomics is no longer negotiable. But often people only see their world and deny this variety of feelings, "says Fabrice des Mazery, former head of product of Deezer. The French actor of online music has also determined 5 different types of characters (those who listen to hard rock, those who are passionate about classical …) who each have their subjectivity and habits. Ditto in the world of gambling, especially since 8% of the male population is color-blind … After studies conducted with gamers invited to playtester the game, icons have been modified to be more understandable, even use stereotypical representations like the wolf trap icon for example to represent the traps in Fortnite. The confusion had to be avoided for the central elements of the game, because the players must be able to concentrate on the gameplay, and not on what the icons mean. Similarly, the UX designers had to find some tips to avoid too much solicit the memory of the players. Celia Hodent shows by Ebbinghaus's work on the curve of oblivion (2) that content learned by heart but which has no meaning and which does not interest us is forgotten at 70% in one day! In addition, the memories are also subjective, each rebuilt in its own way. Indications have been added on the screen to prevent players from breaking their immersion when they forget some information. But players caught in the battle need to stay focused on the action and not be disturbed by confusing information. They focus on fighting and filter the rest, so-called "blind attentional blindness". . Attention is limited in the brain – the wizards know it – so we need to help the players focus on what's relevant. Especially during the crucial phase of "OnBoarding". The multi-task is not a good idea. For example, players fighting enemies will most likely not perceive a tutorial text explaining to them how to recover from life. UX must therefore offer a better user experience, thanks to the feedback from the targeted audience, because cognitive science indicates that our perception is subjective, our memory fallible and our attention limited. A panel of solutions UX Teams two essential points: firstly, "usability". They heal the ergonomics, shapes, sound and visual effects so that players quickly grasp the game's objectives. "In Super Mario, for example, the Bowser character has peaks on his back, clearly indicating to players that can jump on him without hurting himself, "says Celia Hodent. Secondly, the "commitment", proposing an immersive and fun universe. It's about measuring retention, understanding human motivation, emotions, the "game feel". Some "features", such as customization, are important. "The fact that people can personalize their characters is essential. They will express themselves through a costume, a banner, a dance step, "adds the one who insists on the diversity in the games, in order to activate the social mechanisms of emotion / identification to a group. The game should be neither too easy nor too difficult and clear goals should be given to the users, motivated for example to learn how to build a staircase in order to get out of a cave. It must help players become competent. A quasi-scientific approach to UXTo achieve this degree of connivance with the player, the developers work in concert with UX researchers, designing working hypotheses, formulating a research protocol and deciding the profile of participants to invite to test the game in development and for how long. The "features" are then tested, resulting in a report, then a general meeting for adjustments in design balancing or comprehension efficiency. Audits are conducted later. "In Fortnite, one of the key factors of success has been to keep time to solve UX problems rather than adding" features "." Celia Hodent "The hardest thing is to fix the right problem: Are players' reticence that they do not project, that they do not feel emotions, that the objectives are too vague or unmotivating? ". The checklist allows you to scan as many obstacles as possible. There is of course no miracle recipe but a variety of ingredients that help you succeed quickly. "Gathering the product team, the designers, the developers … is very expensive. We need to get a return on investment and even a return on attention, "adds Fabrice des Mazery. With the tests, the UX team shows all its usefulness to the developers who stay in spite of themselves in their small world and do not always understand that people do not make the same connections as them. "Developers have what's known as the knowledge curse because they know their game too well, and so may have a hard time anticipating how their audience will perceive and interact with the environment." cause the expert UX. Empathize with the user "It is important to resist the notion of evidence. At Deezer, many people could not conceive that users do not always listen to music, only taking part in the weekend at this activity, "says Fabrice des Mazery, who is suspicious of the plague of preconceived schemas. Data driven design is not necessarily the panacea for this chief product of the French reference company in product management. "My job is in the land of business, technology and desirability and we have people to convince in each of these areas." Easier said than done, parties all seeking to get commitments. "The hardest thing is to understand why we are going in this direction, explaining that the end goal is a happy user who chooses to use the application", emphasizes the one for whom the business or technical objectives do not necessarily correspond to the needs of the user. Forcing him to connect very often to develop his character, at impossible times, is for example a nuisance in the long run. "We need to create a positive habit, based on curiosity and motivation. For example with the small gift offered every day, with the emulation of the history of rankings … The tips are not lacking so he is happy to return and find relatives. "The business or technical objectives do not necessarily correspond to the needs of the user. Forcing him to connect very often to develop his character, at impossible hours, is counterproductive, "Fabrice des Mazery.Why not UX in other sectors These techniques can they be used in companies, to encourage some tasks at work or to facilitate user learning in edtechs? Certainly. It is always possible to insert game items and work on the commitment, even to fill out tax documents. "Intuit proved by developing TurboTax, a solution to increase motivation and reduce stress during this pre-tax exercise particularly difficult in the Anglo-Saxon world," says Fabrice des Mazery. Simple questions are asked of the taxpayer about his life, and 80% of the card can automatically be filled. The questions are well formulated and require short answers, the motivation of the user is not to be wrong and not to fill his tax forms. Similarly, in Moocs, phases of OnBoarding, Endgame … are useful to make people want and reassure them. "I introduced these steps at Deezer, even for people who listened all the time to music to repel weariness," says the former head of product who insists on this crucial first phase of OnBoarding, where People must be actors. "Zelda allows people to learn by doing, and that's what immediately grabs their attention. In all areas users only have to do explanatory slides to become autonomous. "The Gamer's Brain: how can neuroscience and UX can impact video game design", by Celia Hodent, ed. CRC Press, 2017. Also find our articles on the MSC blog on Zdnet:

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