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Unified Design of Universally Accessible Games (Say What?)

December 7, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 6 Next
 

The Design Process

A key prerequisite to effectively accommodate the particularly broad spectrum of diverse interaction requirements imposed by UA-Games is to firstly design the interactive game space at an abstract level, in a representation-independent way, eliminating all references to the physical-level of interaction (e.g. input / output devices, rendering, low-level dialogue). Once this is accomplished, the next step is to appropriately capture the lower-level design details, incrementally specializing towards the physical level of interaction by addressing particular user characteristics.

To this end, a design approach capable to represent an open set of alternative physical designs under a common abstract design umbrella is the Unified Design method (Savidis & Stephanidis, 2004). This method reflects a process-oriented discipline emphasizing abstract task definition with incremental polymorphic physical specialization.

The basic steps in applying Unified Design to the development of UA-Games are summarised in Figure 1 (below). As shown, Unified Design is a highly participatory, user-centred, iterative process, since:

  • throughout the overall lifecycle, the direct involvement of several representative end-users (gamers) with diverse characteristics, as well as domain experts (usability, accessibility, gaming, etc.) is promoted for the continuous assessment of the design outcomes in each step;
  • it is possible to return to a previous design step, in case, for instance, more information is required, some design artifacts have to be revisited, or the design parameters must be further specialized.

Figure 1 : The basic steps for applying Unified Design to the development of UA-Games

Quite often, in order to evaluate the decisions made at a specific step, or to weigh alternatives before committing to them, it is required to quickly create small-scale temporary prototypes, known as “throwaway” prototypes. These may range from rough hand-made sketches to simple programs. Prototyping is an essential part of the iterative design process since it provides a low cost, tangible means for gathering early and meaningful user feedback, and, at a later stage, can also serve as a common reference point, as well as a concrete, unambiguous, documentation medium for communicating design specifications to game programmers.

At this point, it should be noted that game programmers are also involved in the whole process with a two-fold role: (a) they provide input about technical requirements and restrictions, as well as about the feasibility and cost of alternative design solutions, and (b) they develop and “tweak” the required electronic prototypes.


Article Start Previous Page 2 of 6 Next

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