Game Design Theory for Interface Devices

Beside researching the abstract, fundamental theory of the experience of media like immersion, this research is also focused on applying game design theory to be able to develop a good user experience for the interface devices that are being researched.

A great example of applicable theory for interface design for games is Steve Swink’s book Game Feel1, a part of which can be found on the game design/development website Gamasutra2 . He defines 6 principles (and metrics) for designing “game feel”:

  1. Input (device of interaction, sensitivity)
  2. Response (processing/responding to input)
  3. Context (simulated space)
  4. Polish (enhanced impression of physical reality)
  5. Metaphor (representation, expectation)
  6. Rules (variables of game objects, defining challenge)

Game Feel 6 Metrics

In Chris Bateman’s book Imaginary Games3, in which he explores Kendall Walton’s Prop Theory/Make-Believe Theory (which originates from theater studies) in the context of game design, the interface is viewed as a ‘prop’. A prop, according to Kendall Walton, is an object or property that generates a fictional truth. 4 One description of the appeal using a prop (interface device) in a game is something Bateman calls “kinesthetic mimicry”:

mimicry can be expressed in many forms, but few have such wide appeal as kinesthetic mimicry – that which involves the player’s sense of touch and motion. You can see it in small children who play with toys that mimic adult tools – plastic mechanics’ tools or cooking utensils, or mock weapons such as wooden swords and toy guns. The experience of mimicry is enhanced by the use of such props.


Using a (plastic) gun controller to control a first-person shooter game

To give an example: using a light gun controller in a game will help the gamer feel more immersed in the game, because the physical actions of the gamer are more related to the actual gameplay, and because it helps the player to imagine the embodiment of the avatar (the graphical representation of the user or the user’s alter ego or character) interacting with the game world.

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