Undergraduate Interaction Design Practice at IU
Designing a Better User Experience for Game Interactions
My first project regarding interaction design practice during my time as an undergraduate was to redesign a game called PeaceMaker that explores Israeli-Palestinian issues: http://peacemakergame.com/. The game is a single-player game and was developed in 2006. However, the game is incredibly dense and may be overwhelming for a first time user. Our goal for this project was to work within a group of 5 and redesign the game.
The full brief of the project can be found here.
As a team we worked for a full two weeks on this project, and we as we started researching further into this game we realized none of use really understood the depth and complexity of the interaction system and playability. It was built so that the player had a very small margin of winning, and had to use and understand all of their resources at hand. This was not a game you won on the first try, and it wasn’t something you could idle around in. I was in charge of doing background research on both mobile and desktop turn-based consequence games, and the re-organization of player interactions within the game.
The biggest challenge we ran into as a group was organizing the background information and in-game information. The game was designed to teach you about real-life scenarios that occur, but also to present you with information in the game as the leader of the nation. Our first attempt to address this challenge was to reorganize the amount of information presented to you at the beginning and prepare you for the challenges that may lie ahead (difficulty ratings, map systems, user settings) through onboarding.
We learned through our users that even with a reorganization of information, the game had too large of a cognitive load for them. We decided to remove all videos, as they tended to be too long and didn’t play well into the narrative of the game. We also removed the organization system of the three “actions” (security, political, construction), and reorganized it into four “secretaries” (defense, diplomacy, infrastructure, intelligence) with an action button. These secretaries broke down the information into more understandable categories, and the action button provided the user an assurance that they would be able to go back and change a pre-selected decision before deploying it into the game.
I developed and evolved as a UX designer with this project. I was able to research and understand commonplaces practices within gaming systems, as well as applying that research into the plot of a unique game. I learned that when working within a group of designers, collaboration and communication is key. I also recognized the importance of proper user testing when trying to affirm or reject various design decisions. As a group, we collaborated and debated daily on proper techniques to use within our game and it benefitted us greatly.
The final project deliverable can be found here: IDP Project 1
*This deliverable includes the final sketches, user personas, any mockups or ideations, and the results from user testing.