These six usability principles are relevant to the design of video games, as the speed of production cycles has changed radically over the past couple of years. When developing games with $50 million price tags, it’s worth the time and expense to collect customer data. Corporations like Sony and Activision use the data to develop lines of products just as Maytag develops a line of appliances or Ford, a fleet of vehicles.
A fast development cycle has implications on usability design. Developers can better estimate their future customers’ needs because now they only need to project six months out, instead of six years. 12-year old Jimmy probably won’t give a flying-banshee about the Avatar franchise when he hits eighteen, six years from now. However, the chance that me, my aunt, my cousin and twelve people from each of our friends lists will still be playing some kind of farming, dress-up, grow your own pet-monkey-garden-patch-town-something-or-other six months down the road… Market volatility from 2006 to 2012 tells me it’s not a bad bet (R.I.P. 2011).
It’s cost-prohibitive to acquire data on your customers’ wants and needs during the idea stage of a fast product development cycle, so companies hedge their bets against it. Still, as the wave of a new game design era breaks, investors know that their joy ride is only as good as them and their board. These usability principles carried the Macintosh, and sank the push-button alarm/clock-radio. I challenge you to find me any Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies, Cut the Rope or Fruit Ninja that doesn’t hit on these design principles…
1. Automation should:
2. Display the following:
3. Learnable = explorable:
4. Effect of users actions must be:
5. Standardize where it makes sense:
6. Design for error: