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How Interaction Design can help in creating a better player experience.

As a game designer, it is critical to understand how players interact with the game and what emotion or experience is generated. This understanding can be improved with the understanding of Interaction design and how it can help game designers.

 

In this article, we’ll talk about Interaction design in Video games and how the game designers and the development team need to understand the Interaction design in making a fun and immersive gameplay experience.

 

“UX design is about removing problems for the user. Game design is about giving problems to the user.”

— Raph Koster, Game design vs UX design

 

Video games are designed to be fun, engaging, and most importantly immersive. We want our player to get invested (Addicted, but word is has a little negative tone to it) in the game world without realizing how much time they have spent in the game, that is a good immersive experience. 

 

So, What is Interaction Design?

Interaction Design or (IXD) is basically about creating an engaging interface with well thought out player behavior, something that feels natural. Understanding, how your player will communicate with the game and its systems is the core aspect of interaction design. Sid Meiers’ Said,” Game is a series of interesting choices” and as game designers, we decide or create opportunities for the player to make those decisions. With the understanding of Interaction design, we can anticipate how a player may or may not interpret, interact and communicate with the game system. This understanding of player behavior can help establish an engaging and immersive gameplay loop. 

 

A lot of people believe that interaction design is only associated with apps and web design, but it is far more than that. Interaction design(Designer) is responsible for creating a flawless experience. An experience that keeps its users/ players engaged and entertained. 

 

Digital games are the highest form of interaction because a player can make meaningful choices and in turn experience a variety of emotions. Games allow players to interact in more ways than a website or an app. A game can offer any number of different experiences through its narrative, Interactions, Rewards, gameplay, etc. depending on the genre of the game. For us to be able to create such emotions, we need to understand player psychology and how players interact with the game. Such experience encourages players to continue to play the game. Few things designer should consider enforcing such emotion are:

  • The game should be easy to learn. Making it easy for a player to learn the game rule enforces a sense of comprehension. At the same time game should be difficult to master as the easy game and repetitive actions can lead to monotonous experience. 

  • Allowing players to perform certain actions more skillful than others. This helps players with a sense of accomplishment and mastery over the game systems. This can be dependent on their skill level and perception of ability. 

  • Establish player progression through gameplay. Players should always have an understanding that their actions are paid off i.e. through skill or ability achieved progressively in the game. 

  • Control over the game and its world. The player should perceive they are in direct control of their character (Avatar) and game world. The player should feel all the action in the game are through players’ decision making and the progression is lead by player. 

 

How do we get players hooked to the game?

 

The human brain can memorize a lot of information but it also tends to forget a lot of information quite easily. George Miller found that people can keep only 5-9 items in their short term memory before they forget. This is a huge problem for digital games since they are usually consumed over a longer duration of time, several days, weeks or even months or years for some games. Game Designers need to understand how players perceive games i.e. the information provided by the game system and how that information is processed by the human brain. 

Understanding how habits are formed can help us design better games. Habits are enforced by the emotional responses, once a habit is formed player will stay in-game for a longer duration of time. The game designers can make use of “The Hook Canvas” by Nir Eyal to enforce these habits via these 4 interconnected phases.

 

  • Cues (Or Triggers) are the visual clues in the game that prompts players to perform certain actions. These clues can be easily spotted and help players in understanding the game better. Each game has its set of clues or triggers that helps them with in-game actions. 

  • Routine, few actions in the games are constantly repeated i.e. part of its core gameplay loop. These actions need to have a progression for the player to have a sense of accomplishment but these actions can not change. 

  • Rewards - one of the most important hooks in building a habit is rewards. Games need to establish a proper feedback loop and reward its players either through Visual gratification, aesthetic gratification, in-game rewards, narrative or progression to keep the players engaged.

  • Investment- To get players hooked to the game they need to be emotionally invested. A sense of personalization helps establish the players emotionally, the more time players spend in the game, the more invested they are. A lot of games have players invested both with an aesthetic system such as character customization, crafting, etc. and progression based investment i.e. ability or skill tree, level system, etc.

 

If players are familiar with the interaction it becomes easier for them to interact with. How players contribute and collaborate with the game system, learning, narrative, Etc. can all be improved with the understanding of how players and game systems/UX communicate with each other. Designers can build an immersive environment once they have successfully formed a habit of interacting with the design. 

 

References:

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