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Designing Usable and Accessible Games with Interaction Design Patterns
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Designing Usable and Accessible Games with Interaction Design Patterns

May 17, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 6 Next

2. Usability & Accessibility problems in Games


Let's look at some common usability & accessibility problems that we found, we organized our specific problems into five problem categories.

Player has to wait

  • The player has to watch a cut scene that he or she has already seen before and cannot skip through it (same problem occurs with replays).

  • The player has to wait a long time for something to complete (e.g. creating a building in a RTS).

  • The player has to make a lot of decisions before they can start playing the game, (e.g. in a RPG first a character needs to be made and configured).

  • The player made a mistake and has to wait for a level or save game to load.

Player makes errors

  • The player gets killed repeatedly (e.g. fighting an impossible to beat end level boss) either because of inexperience or a disability.

  • Player forgets to make a save game and has to play from an earlier save game.

  • The player needs to successfully perform a series of actions in a short period of time and fails repeatedly (e.g. push button to open door, jump over pit, fight enemies, roll under door).

Game does not adapt to the player

  • A deaf player or a player using a handheld console in a noisy environment cannot understand the cut scene because of lack of subtitles.

  • Player is used to particular button configuration or a physically disabled player needs to use a specialized input device (one handed controller or a sip and puff device), which requires a different button configuration and players are unable to change this in the game.

  • Player finds it hard to do certain things in the game such as aiming in a first person shooter either because of lack of experience or because of a disability.

Game does not provide help

  • Player wants to try out new weapons/vehicles/game objects but is hesitant to do so because it might negatively affect its current character/environment.

  • Player needs instruction on how to use a certain game object but doesn’t want to look in the manual all the time.

  • In order to play the game, the player needs to know information (e.g. for example the location of an artifact, in order to solve a quest). This information is provided during the game but is not readily recallable at any moment. Player needs to go back to the part of the game where this information is given.

Game does not provide feedback

  • Player wants to know how much longer he has to play before finishing the game, but is unable to find out.

  • Player did something spectacular but has no time to enjoy it as the game goes on immediately.

Problems are contextual

One important observation is that these problems are typically contextual; a usability problem where the player has to watch a cut scene over and over again only occurs in games that have cut scenes. Forgetting to make a save game only occurs with games that allow storing game progress. Being overwhelmed with information is probably not a problem for games that give little feedback such as Tetris.

Tetris Evolution

Accessibility problems are also highly contextual as they strongly depend on the type of disability the player suffers from e.g. lack of closed captions might not be a problem for a physical disabled player and most deaf players can use regular controllers instead of specialized controllers.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 6 Next

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