Designing For Growing Popularity of Video Games and Increasing Gamer Frustrations.







From personal experience and frequent discussions with friends, I realized that some dedicated gamers juggle between multiple games at once and have a growing backlog of games. This frustrates them as new games release during busy times, and the number of games they are interested in playing grow each week.






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Design Solution.

My main goal is to design a mobile app to supplement many gamers' needs, which mainly include being able to track in-game statistics and to easily access game guides and walkthroughs. This app would improve the quality of gamers' user experience because they can manage their game library and progress anywhere they like.

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My Process.

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Competitive Analysis.

Before designing the app, I wanted to identify the competitors that already exist in this market. I researched five other products that offer related and similar features for gamers, which allows me to pinpoint the features that my app should include.

IGN Mobile App PlayStation Mobile App How Long To Beat - HLTB Completionator The Backloggery Grouvee My Game Collection Mobile App
Account/Profile
Not required, but users can sign in / sign up manually or through Facebook or Google. The account serves no special purpose on the app.

Required to use any features.

Required, but website still can be used without logging in. Users can view the games in their backlog and set playthroughs for specific games.

Required, but website still can be used without logging in. Users can view the games in their backlog and set playthroughs and missions for specific games. There is also a chat feature on user profiles where other users can leave comments.

Required to use any features. Users can create unique profiles and showcase their gaming backlogs.

Required, but website still can be used without logging in.

No need to create an account. Data is saved on the device.
Forum/Community
The active IGN community forums are not present in the app.

The app allows users to view and interact with other PlayStation users and their gaming-related statistics.

There is an active forum with members discussing specific video games and giving site feedback. There is also an off-topic section.

There is an active forum with members discussing video games in general, video game collecting, and giving site feedback. There is also an off-topic section.

There is an active forum with members discussing specific video games in their backlog and Grouvee's own gaming podcast. There is also an off-topic section.

However, the app links to a Reddit subreddit for any discussions.
Browse Games
Users cannot browse individual games, but they can browse game news, reviews, and walkthrough created by IGN.

Users can browse games from the PlayStation store (external store), their own game trophies, or other player's trophies.

Users can search through thousands of games from different platforms with different search parameters. Users can also search for their Steam Profile to see how long it would take to beat their game collection.

Users can search through games with search parameters.

Users cannot search through games. They only can manually add their games by typing in the title and choosing the platform.

However, users cannot search with specific search parameters.

Users can search through a collection of games and are able to import their game backlog from their Steam profile, PlayStation 4 account, Xbox One account, and more.
Friends and Leaderboards

Users can compare their own statistics with their friends, including their game library and trophies. There is also an activity feed of friends' trophy acquisition.

Users can add community users as friends and view users' and friends' stats.

Users can add community users as friends and view users' and friends' stats.

Users can use the Multitap feature to stay updated on friends' progress on games. However, there are no leaderboards.

Users can add community users as friends and view users' and friends' stats.

However, users must manually add friends by first/last names, location. This friends list is primarily used to keep track of game and hardware loans from friends.
Specific Game Information
However, content is not listed by games. Reviews, news, and game walkthroughs are listed in their own sections, and not specific game information is not listed by individual games.

Users can view information for specific games in the PlayStation store (external website), as well as trophy for each game that they and their friends own.

Each game has an overview that describes what the game is, its developer, publisher, and the length of the game and its DLCs and expansions.

Similar compared to HLTB, plus user's progress can be compared with other users and friends.

Each game is manually added so no information is available except for the game's platform.

Each game has an overview that describes what the game is, its developer, publisher, and users can submit reviews of the game for others to read.

Advertisement/Premium Version
There are advertisements and a subscription plan called IGN Prime that is not prevalent in the mobile app.

There are advertisements in the activity feed. Users can pay for PlayStation subscription service called PS Plus, but it does not add features within the mobile app.

Can donate.

Nowhere to donate.

Nowhere to donate, but there is a contact form.

There are banner ads and there is also a Grouvee Gold membership that removes those ads, access to giveaways, and other benefits. $10 a year.

There are ads along with a premium version that removes ads, allow for Dropbox and Google Drive support, and more features.




Conducting User Interviews.

 
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To design an app that would actually solve these real-world problems that many gamers face, I interviewed 10 individuals who I consider as dedicated gamers. Most of the interviewees are my close connections. The interviews are semi-structured and lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes.




Designing User Personas.

Through analyzing my interview notes, I noticed two distinct categories of interviewees that cover most of the use cases for the app, which I used to create the user personas below.

 
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James, 20, College Junior

Bio

James is a third-year college student at the University of Michigan majoring in Computer Science. He owns over 200 games on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and currently has over 130 unfinished games that he plans to complete in the near future. Unfortunately, he has no concrete or efficient plan to do so.

Goals

  1. Seeks a more organized way to complete his currently in-progress games on multiple platforms.

  2. Hopes to find a way to easily track completion rate and achievements in each game and use walk-through videos all in one place to complete the games in a shorter amount of time.

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Scarlett, 22, Recent College Graduate

Bio

Scarlett is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan School of Information. Having secured a well-suited job in Ann Arbor, she now has more free time to explore potential pastimes. Her younger brother is an avid gamer, which has peaked her curiosity in video games. She can be unorganized and has a hard time deciding which game to play in her growing game library on PC, PlayStation 4, and Switch.

Goals

  1. Wants to get into video games but is looking for a more efficient way to track her own progress through multiple games

  2. Wants a way to track game progress while not gaming (ex: while on her way back home from work)

 

 
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Wireframing and determining the "Golden Path".

Based on patterns I noticed in my research, I wireframed out a few ideas using Sketch.

I also created a user flow diagram to understand what I need to include in my application design. Much of the screens changed as I iterated more in the design process and tested my designs.

 
 
 



To build upon the wireframe, I created higher visual-quality mockups.

 
 



Iteration and Feedback.

One of the largest issues with my first round of high fidelity mockups was with having too many unnecessary screens, options, and inconsistent organization that would have been confusing for users.




Based on the feedback I received from other designers, my prototype went through a few more iterations.

 
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And I completed another round of design.

 
 



Usability Testing.

After these above designs were created, I quickly realized that there were several (mainly visual design) issues that needed to be fixed. This intuition convinced me to conduct five usability tests to validate my hypothesis.

These tests I conducted each lasted for about 15 minutes and all were in person with users who were NOT frequent gamers.

Some of my findings are:

The left side draggable/swipe-able navigation is confusing to some users and has discoverability issues.

  • Alternative - hamburger bar is outside of thumb zone.

  • Second alternative - bottom tab bar - more appropriate.

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  • Text, especially buttons, is hard to read and is cluttered.

  • No need to have messaging or friends feature.

    • Other apps exist for that (e.g. Steam, PS App).

  • No need to show completed games.


After these results, I evaluated the feedback and redesigned once again.




Style Guide.

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Using Apple's Human Interface Guidelines for iOS

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Current Design.

The current visual theme uses a crimson red color to bring the feeling of youth and power into the hands of passionate gamers.

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During the loading screen after the user signs up using a game service (PlayStation, Xbox, Steam), the user will be able to see some of the games that are being imported and and a note for them to read while they wait. (GIF)

 



Using Principle, I incorporated some motion designs to increase and usability of the app.

 

The user explores the home screen and then chooses a game that they have recently played.

The user visits the game guide screen for the game to read more about one of the game’s levels.

 



 

Search function. (GIF)

 



Interactive Prototype.

Click below to begin!

 
 



What I Learned.

Following design guidelines is key.

Initially during my first few rounds of design, I did not follow the iOS 12 Design Guidelines when designing. Instead, I created my own style guide, which was admittedly unorganized and therefore resulted in an overall convoluted app design. But as I have learned after designing random mobile apps during my free time, I found that using existing design guidelines makes my job a lot easier and creates higher quality designs.

Sometimes, assumptions have to be made when designing.

Hypothetically, this mobile app would have to earn the approval of many companies, including Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, in order to be officially developed and released to market. Access to users’ game library and statistics would have to be given to the app. Without this assumption, however, this app would not be possible.

This made me realize that assumptions would sometimes have to made in a design project because many aspects may be uncertain for a period of time, including approval from developers or a project lead for some design decisions.




Sources Cited.

https://www.wepc.com/news/video-game-statistics/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/552623/number-games-released-steam/

https://www.limelight.com/resources/white-paper/state-of-online-gaming-2018/




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