Does Game Quality Reflect Heuristic Evaluation?: Heuristic Evaluation of Games in Different Quality Strata

Does Game Quality Reflect Heuristic Evaluation?: Heuristic Evaluation of Games in Different Quality Strata

Björn Strååt (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden), Fredrik Rutz (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden) and Magnus Johansson (Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/ijgcms.2014100104
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Abstract

Usability evaluation tools in the form of heuristic lists can be very helpful in software development. In the field of video game design, researchers are continuously developing new heuristic tools aimed specifically at video game productions. However, through previous studies, the authors have found that even though these tools are frequent and common, design issues regularly appear in video games. This study examines whether video game heuristics are able to capture and evaluate softer values of video game interaction, based on the challenges, flow and immersion of gameplay. By conducting a heuristic evaluation on low scoring and high scoring games the authors manage to show which kind of design issues are most frequent in both high and low scoring games. As a further result of the study, two new heuristics are presented.
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Introduction

Anyone who regularly plays computer games has, with a high probability, come across annoying or frustrating design elements. To prevent problematic design choices, video game developers can work with a number of different methodologies such as expert reviews, user studies, design patterns, heuristic evaluations and so on (Isbister & Shaffer, 2008). Evaluation tools in the form of heuristic lists can be very helpful in software development, and in recent years, many game researchers (Federoff, 2000; Pinelle, Wong, & Stach, 2008; Desurvire, Caplan, & Toth, 2004; Desurvire & Wiberg, 2009) have developed heuristic tools aimed at design issues specific for video game design. According to these researchers, many video game design companies use their tools for quality assurance. However, even though these heuristics exist, and even though game developers use them, released games still have issues with interaction or usability in the game world.

Video game productions are, like any other project, constrained by time, budget and scope. In any design, there will be trade-offs. These trade-offs should not come at the expense of user experience or usability of the end product. In the study presented in this article, we put a set of video game heuristics, compiled in a previous study (Strååt, Johansson, & Warpefelt, 2013), to the test in order to see if it efficiently can evaluate games of both high and low popularity. Furthermore, this study gives a view of what type of problems that are frequent within the different quality strata.

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