It’s a whole different language – Usability of Online Gaming
Usability testing always poses some challenges to researchers depending on what you are testing, where you are testing it and whom you are testing it with. There might be technical, cultural, language or logistical barriers to making it happen and all of these factors – and more – might need to be addressed in order to secure a successful outcome. From the tester’s point of view things become even more complicated when what you are testing falls into the gaming category.
All of the usual caveats apply but gaming sites tend to have a language, culture and specialist aspect all of their own and understanding how these apply and work can be key to understanding the testing requirements and conducting useful and informative research to establish if the site or app operates in the way the client and users want it to.
If you are familiar with gaming a lot of the jargon and terminology might come easily; but if you are not, terms like boxed bet, parlay and quinella might well be a foreign language to you. A boxed bet is betting all the combinations in a multi-horse wager, parlaying is carrying winnings over from one bet to make another and a quinella is abet in which the first two horses must be picked but the order in which they finish is irrelevant. There are literally hundreds of specialist sporting and betting terms in horse racing alone never mind all the other sports that might be covered by gaming sites. If you visit the website of the larger bookmakers you will find all sorts of mind-boggling variations of bet, based on all different permutations and combinations of outcome.
Online casinos offer a similar sort of challenge. A glossary of casino terms on the website ildado.com lists over 300 terms used in online casino play, many of which have quite involved and esoteric explanations, There are so many different games and variations of games (poker alone has over 1200 according to some sources) that, while it is unlikely most of these are available on gaming sites, it is inevitable that you will be dealing with great potential diversity. And one client’s understanding of what constitutes an online poker or blackjack game might differ to another’s.
The bottom line here is that you need to fully understand a client’s business needs and how they impact on the working of their site in order to give good advice and design models and tests that offer the features and functionality that their users will expect and want. When you are dealing with a technically involved and potentially complex area such as gaming sites it might be worth spending that extra time familiarising yourself with your client’s products, how they work online and what sorts of features users need to make their experiences good ones.
This complexity can also have implications for costings; if more time is needed to understand the intricacies of a site or implant mathematical models to make sure they work properly this will almost certainly be reflected in increased costs. It is well to get a handle on this right at the outset so there are no nasty surprises for you or the client when the final bill is calculated.
PS If the articles and comments I have read about current gaming site usability are anything to go by, if you do go that extra mile in this sector you would be doing your clients a great service – and it won’t do you reputation any harm either.
UX24/7 has a wealth of experience in this, and many other areas. If you would like more information or advice on any website usability issues, why not tap into our extensive knowledge by giving us a call free on 08000 246 247 or dropping us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.