Games and new audiences

08-04-2010-11-58-38I was very interested to read that the BBC is just taking it’s first steps into the games market, producing an interactive Dr Who game. They follow in the footsteps of Channel 4 – who have made (among others) the excellent Bow Street Runner.

Games have recently seen an explosion of players. With OAPs picking up the Nintendo Wii and Farmville on Facebook (over 80 million players), the gaming audience has alteredalmost beyond recognition.

This change in gaming market means developers have to take extra care to ensure that the game the designer planned is the game experienced by players at the far end of the development process. Simply put – Developers need to usability test their games. Game usability is a big thing now.

This is especially important for developers Sumo Digital if they are hoping to “bring new people into computer gaming”. This is quite a tough, but admirable aim. Games have their own language, they need understanding and experience in order to be played successfully. Jens Matthies, creative director ofMachinegames once said “I remember we tried testing [a game] with a group of non-gamers and it was a complete disaster. They couldn’t even work out how to leave the first room. They just didn’t understand the controls or how to interact with the game”.

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It’s hard to pick up new game controls.  Add in learning game mechanics at the same time and game usability issues arise (This guy is good… run into him… no, not that guy!).

I can’t wait to see what the result is, and rest assured I’ll be doing some brief game usability testing with other people to see how they find it!

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