Usability testing is considered the crucial step in the successful design of new technologies and tools. It ensures the developers that heterogeneous populations can effectively interact with the designed innovative applications. When it comes to testing the usability of Serious Games, there are unique usability challenges to deal with.
In this article, you will explore the importance and methodology of usability testing in serious games.
Crucial Aspects Related To Serious Games
Dynamic interaction of closely related, yet unique components majorly affects the success of serious educational games as training tools. You should not only focus on testing the serious games for basic usability, but also for playability and learnability merit. For example, the game’s user interface should be easy-to-use and fun.
Usability focuses on the independent functionalities within individual components, making it a more micro approach. On the other hand, Playability focuses on a much broader sense of overall functionality that is further associated with the integration of numerous usable tools, allowing enjoyable interaction with serious games. Learnability helps in mastering the game controls and content deliverables. It is suitable for examining usability in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Next, it is vital to measure the learning outcomes for individuals during the testing phases of the game to make sure that primary goals are achieved before committing time, effort, and resources to the project.
Before developing a serious game, it is crucial to properly identify your target audience and the characteristics of the users. You can either use subject matter experts (SMEs) for compiling a user profile or can contact and interview the target population to get their feedback. Make sure to collect basic demographic and further background information that might influence the interaction with the software.
#2. Storyboarding and paper prototyping:
In this stage, you need to begin developing concepts for the serious game in the storyboard format, such as the design, style, and art of the game while considering the requirements of your target audience.
A paper prototype is the game’s paper-based version that demonstrates the game’s structure and elements. It is essential to bring out the developer’s ideas and objectives on a paper prototype to get an in-depth understanding of the project scope. The flow of the paper prototyping should be seamless from the game screen to screen while demonstrating the actual sequence flow.
#3. Build Alpha 1
Next, you can create a rough first alpha build of the game. Upon completion of the working computer draft, an in-house team or selected users can be asked to conduct a ‘game-breaking’ session to test the functionalities and limitations of the game.
#4. Build Alpha 2
It is important to provide programmers with a usability report to address and fix all issues discovered during testing in the Alpha 1 build stage. The second round of usability testing is conducted with the help of small groups of five people. At this stage, learning objects are reassessed to make sure that the game is usable and also effective.
#5. Build Beta
This stage also involves testing the usability of the game with the help of five individuals. A final report with any lingering problems is prepared and presented to the programmers.
#6. Final Build
Any issues still present after beta testing are addressed and a final draft of the game is prepared by the programmers. Then only-in house researchers and on-staff experts are asked to conduct usability testing to make sure that the final draft is free of any issues. Any last-minute adjustments should be implemented by you to complete the game.
Interactive Games Usability Testing Approach
Here mentioned are different types of methods used for testing the usability of serious games:
#1. Expert Methods:
In this method, experienced evaluators identify potential pitfalls and issues with usability. It can have various questionnaires focusing on identifying every weak aspect related to serious game usability.
#2. Theoretical Methods:
In this method, theoretical models of tools and user behaviors are compared to figure out usability issues. The evaluator has to list down the scope of the project with the end goal to compare the entire flow with the ideal scenario.
#3. User Methods:
In this method, software prototypes are given to end users for interaction. They can play around and have a trial of the serious games to come up with the most honest feedback or suggestions.
Measuring Usability In Serious Games Development
Since, serious games are accessed by broad audiences, including non-gamers, it is important to measure their usability of serious games. Several survey-based metrics and evaluation methodologies are available for measuring the usability of the games. These include System Usability Scale (SUS), Software Usability Measurement Inventory (SUMI), Questionnaire for User Interaction Satisfaction (QUIS), and more.
Deployment Process Of Serious Games Usability Testing
The Serious Game usability Evaluator (SeGUE), is one of the most efficient tools developed for testing the usability of serious games. The SeGUE was derived after using two randomly selected serious game valuation sessions. System-related and user-related dimensions were created for annotation purposes.
Within the system-related dimension, there were six categories, including game flow, functionality, content, layout/UI, technical errors, and non-applicable category. In the user-related dimension, ten events were categorized across different emotions- negative, positive, and neutral emotions.
DMG Studio Ensuring Usability, Playability & Learnability In Serious Games
Usability testing is a critical process that is essential for developing the most-effective serious games. Along with measuring for playability and learning outcomes, it helps in improving the game’s design process.
Are you looking forward to building impeccable and interactive Serious Games? DMG Studio is a one-stop destination for advanced technology and Serious Games solutions. We are experienced and skilled in understanding the requirement for crafting the best fun-driven game with usability, playability & learnability.