One of the main concepts we discussed last week in class was how research into user centered design could be conducted. Over the week I encountered two types of these research methods. I learned a lot about the two research methods and I thought that it was a cool coincidence that they both occurred in the same week that we learned about them.
It's supposed to be an infinity sign in the middle. (NOOL)
The focus group itself was pretty small. Aside from the conductor there six other UOIT students from various programs such as game development (myself), business, science, engineering and so on. I thought that having people from different programs was pretty important because it gave the group different perspectives.
For example, I'm a programmer and as a result a lot of times when I'm looking up information online, it's tailored for programmers and programming concepts. So my idea of what a good learning resource site should look like was different from what other students wanted.
Plain text, nice and skimmable. (Autodesk)
I thought that it was pretty nice to have different opinions on the design of the website. From a designer's point of view it would be useful to hear opinions clash so that they get a better understanding of what their potential users want and how they can deliver that.
The next research method that I experienced was observational research. I participated in the Global Game Jam this last weekend and we had a large group of people working on our game. We split it up into essentially three divisions: programmers, artists and level designers.
A level design drafted up by one of our designers.
Once we got the core scripts created and implemented, we gave the project to the level designers to create their levels. Unity makes it really easy to make changes on the fly, so after their levels were done the level designers did observation tests to see how their designs would be received.
When I played through some of the levels, I would play the game in a way that the level designer didn't anticipate, such as skipping a portion of the level by jumping from a specific platform to another. As a player I didn't think too much about it, but the designer would make a note of all the things they didn't expect and take them into account when tweaking their levels.
A screenshot from the finished product.
Through observational research by having other people play through their level designs, the designers were able to improve and fix up their levels after taking into account how players play their game. Overall I feel that a simple user research technique like that allowed us to make a better game.