Eye Tracking for Games Usability

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The usability research firm Key Lime Interactive partnered with video game publisher THQ, Inc. for an eye tracking-based usability study on a 3D game.

Challenge

With methods like observation and “Think Aloud”, usability specialists can observe if a player is having difficulties, e.g. if he or she fails a task. But in order to gain additional insights into why a player is failing a task, these methods face some limitations.

Many gameplay issues are related to the player’s ability to notice and understand in-game cues and objects. Typical usability techniques do not always provide adequate information regarding player awareness and understanding of these elements.

Solution

To determine why players were having difficulties that were not discernable using observation and „Think Aloud“ techniques, Key Lime Interactive repeated a previous study using SMI eye tracking technology.

SMI Eye Tracking

Eye tracking data was collected using the SMI RED remote eye tracking system networked with a high-end gaming machine. For tests on game consoles, SMI offers the Frame Grabber Module allowing players to use the game in a natural setting.

Benefit

Re-running the study with eye tracking provided additional insights into players‘ gaze and awareness. This enabled game designers to assess the effectiveness of key elements in the 3D world and to optimize
the placement and visibility of in-game cues and objects.

The eye tracking data helped quantify player perception of game components, such as heads-up display elements, as well as specific objects within the 3D world.

Background

Usability studies for games need to take into account certain characteristics: First, the user experience is the primary purpose of the game. Second, part of the appeal of games is overcoming challenges. And third, gamers represent an increasingly diverse group.

Key Lime Interactive, a usability research firm, partnered with video game publisher, THQ Inc, for an eye tracking-based usability study on a forthcoming action-adventure title. THQ decided to rerun the study with eye tracking because they needed additional insights to determine why players were having difficulties that were not discernable using observation and “think aloud” techniques.

Benefit

Re-running the study with eye tracking provided additional insights into players‘ gaze and awareness. This enabled game designers to assess the effectiveness of key elements in the 3D world and to optimize
the placement and visibility of in-game cues and objects.

The eye tracking data helped quantify player perception of game components, such as heads-up display elements, as well as specific objects within the 3D world.

Customer institution KeyLime Interactive
Customer website www.keylimeinteractive.com