Top-Down Designers vs Bottom-Up Users : limitations of Heuristic Evaluations on Games

Abstract: Heuristic evaluations are a common way to measure software usability, both during development and to assess existing systems. Generic heuristic tools are aimed at productivity software, but many software domains require domain-specific heuristics. Video games are very different from productivity software in terms of purpose, design, and execution, and thus require specially developed heuristics. Heuristics de-veloped for video games can however only guide the game developers, and are in themselves no guaran-tee of a positive game experience. The questions examined in this thesis concern the extent to which heuristics developed by experts can address the issues that the end users - the players - experience. Furthermore, I examine what kinds of design issues are most frequent, and whether these issues are reflected in online critical reviews. The results of the studies suggest that heuristics that assess affordance and meaningful play should be developed. Furthermore, the results show that users focus their criticism on narrative and aesthetics rather than the issues that the heuristics involved in this study were designed to counter.

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