Friday, August 3, 2012

UX designers should play more video games

Something I didn't mention about my aversion to games, was that I was afraid. I mentioned already that I was afraid of a scary controller and slow but competently mobile zombies, but I was also afraid of becoming addicted.

The day my husband came home with an Xbox 360, I was worried I would lose him to the vortex of the machine. I wondered if this was the beginning of the end of our communication. Would I ever be able to snap him out of his game-induced trance long enough to have a conversation?

In reality, it wasn't a worry. In fact, his enthusiasm for the first game he bought, Call of Duty World at War, made me so, I started sheepishly playing. Early on, I was awesome only at running into walls and getting killed by others. But after some practice, I was able to maneuver around and even got some kills in.

Playing Call of Duty World at War an epic experience. The environment is so realistic, it's actually distracting from the objective (to kill others and not die). Water is crisp, flames are mesmerizing, bugs fly around, and your gaze can follow planes in the sky. It just looks amazing. Watch the Trailer here (but buy a more recent Call of duty if you like multi-player since cheaters have ruined this mode).  

Later, I'd shoot real guns, and surprisingly found myself with a host of knowledge. Without picking up one book or reading wikipedia, I could identify World War 2 weapons on sight.

How do you like that?

Later, again because my husband loved it so much, I started playing Starcraft (another amazing game, for very different reasons), trailer here. Again, there were side benefits I could not have imagined. SC2 replays and professional, yes, I said professional, tournaments became another channel to appreciate the game, the players, and the huge community of passionate people that love the game. Watch a great replay screencasted by Husky, who's voice has got to be golden ratio.


So what's the point of this blog post, aside from being a valentine to COD and SC2? I guess to say that we all need video games, especially over 30 female user experience designers, like me.

Though their information architecture and menus are generally awful (they need you!), they've always  pushed tore up the envelope. In doing so, there are many design lessons such as situation awareness, head-up displays, maps, real-time collaboration, and communication. These are all practical patterns that haven't been done well on the web because the web cannot match desktop application or console game processing speed (yet?). Of course they're addictive highly engaging, by design which is the most compelling aspect worthy of study.


*annie* said...

you should try Bioshock or Bioshock 2, absolutely breathtaking gameplay environments!

Rachel Li said...

Absolutely breathtaking! #2 & 3 were pretty good, and 1 is a masterpiece. The music and sound effects are incredible. I've never played a more immersive game!