Badlands - Mobile game user experience
Assessing the user experience of a mobile game.
Gaming is a huge space with its own unique set of user experience challenges. We were specifically interested in casual gaming experience and focused on assessing the first -time gameplay experience and stickiness of of the mobile phone and tablet game, Badland.
What makes a casual game stick?
We conducted a short interview with each participant to gain insight and context into their relationship with casual gaming (e.g., what they like, when do they do it, etc.). We then ran a usability test beginning with discovering the game in the Apple App Store. This allowed us to assess the participants' experience with how the game is presented and described before they even download it. The test then moved into actual gameplay and finished up with a retrospective evaluation of the gameplay with the participant.
Our main goal was to assess the first time experience with the Badlands game and see if we could analyze what makes participants stick with the game and pay additional money to play that game further. More specifically, we focused on assessing the game's engagement and appeal - what hooked the participants? what repelled them? what made them want to play more?
We gained specific insight into the aspects of the Badlands gameplay that would make it more or less likely for participants to play the game on a longer term basis, beyond the first 5-15 minutes of trying it out. These insights helped identify specific design improvements that would improve the first time game experience for new users of the game and, just as importantly, ensured that the gameplay aspects contributing to the participants' positive experiences would be maintained.
At a higher level, this study represents the early steps into identifying the key factors that game designers should focus on to optimize the casual gamer's experience.