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evaluating an effective mobile game experience

a list of questions that can be used as evaluation criteria for designing a successful (mobile) game experience.

Clarity

  • are the game's rules clearly communicated to the player? (how)
  • are the game objectives clear?
  • are incentives clear (and appropriate)?
  • are the risks/dangers clear/understood?
  • how does the game read? (i.e. could someone discypher incentives /objectives /risks /dangers from a screenshot?)
  • what are the game's "metaphors"? (how do things in this game map to "real life")
  • is the game consistent? (does it use the visuals, audio, feedback in a consistent way throughout the game?)
  • does the game provide feedback (visual/audio/tactile cues) where appropriate?
  • does the game provide enough context so that if a player takes a hiatus (for days/weeks/months) can they return to the game with minimal effort (and understand clearly what the objectives are, regardless of how far into the game they are?)

 

Audience & Appeal

  • who is the target audience for this game? (age group, gender, interest group, etc.)
  • how does this game appeal to the audience?

Learning & Mastery

  • how easy is the game to "pick up and play"? (does the action on screen map intuitively to the controls?)
  • is the pacing appropriate to allow players the opportunity to "learn" features and gameplay without being overwhelmed?
  • what makes the game easy to understand and hard to master? (i.e. does the game have "simple" (to understand) goals that are not necessarily "easy(to execute) in gameplay
  • how is the players progress communicated? (how far in?, how far to go?)
  • is the player aware of how good/average/bad they are doing? (grading)
  • what mechanisms exist from keeping the player from becoming discouraged (if they fail) or frustrated (if they are lost/confused) so they don't quit?
  • what incentives are there for players to achieve mastery?


Challenge & Play

  • how does the game challenge players?
  • what behaviors does the game encourage?
  • what behaviors does the game discourage?
  • what facilities does the player need to achieve mastery? (manual dexterity, problem solving, memory ...)

Repetition & Uniqueness
  • how does the game "surprise" players?
  • what makes the game unique from similar games?
  • what incentives are there for the person to keep playing after the initial novelty wears off? what makes the inherent repetition special?

Expediency

  • how much time does it take between someone realizing they want to play to be actually playing the game? (how long does it take to load and start playing?)

Barriers
  • What barriers exist that keep people from playing the game? (i.e.device must support multitouch, keyboard, internet, etc.)


(*) this list was created from my own personal observations of "success", not listed in order of importance. the goal of this list is to provide evaluation criteria that may help provide direction for initial design as well as iterative improvement through the addition (or subtraction) of features in the development of mobile games. i am no authority, so any feedback (even negative) is highly appreciated, thanks. 

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