Video games and UX design: how to optimise gaming experience

videogames and ux design

Video games and UX design: how to optimise gaming experience

The concept of user experience has become increasingly important in various industries in recent years, especially in the video game industry. In fact, reconciling video games and UX design is both a necessity and a challenge: multiple aspects must be considered in order to create a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience. In today’s guide, together we’ll take a look at some tips and tricks for optimising the gaming experience through UX design.

It’s hardly a surprise that the gaming industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom: in fact, in Italy alone the video gaming sphere generates a turnover of more than 2 billion euros annually, and more than 15 million Italians spend an average of at least eight hours a week in front of video games.

The constant evolution of available devices and game modes is certainly contributing to the expansion of this sector: for example, we have already discussed the latest developments in the field of mobile gaming, which is gaining ever larger slices of the market.

For a great many gamers, video games represent a moment for leisure and entertainment, a kind of ‘safe place’ in which to take refuge to temporarily forget their problems and worries. But or users to truly have an enjoyable and rewarding experience, their User Experience (UX) must be smooth and seamless.

Therefore, in today’s article we want to take an in-depth look at the link between video games and UX design, a concept that is often overlooked but actually very important in determining the playability (and thus the popularity) of a new video game.


What does UX and UX design mean?

Before delving into the link between video games and UX design, we must start with the basics, namely the concept of User Experience.

In general, ‘User Experience’ (UX) refers to the overall, subjective experience of users while interacting with a product, service, or system. The concept of UX thus encapsulates the feelings, emotions, perceptions, behaviours, and outcomes associated with an interaction with a specific element.

The concept of UX proves to be fundamental in numerous areas: interfaces and sections of applications and websites, hardware devices (such as computers or medical equipment), online and offline advertising, as well as services intended for the public such as ATMs, vending machines, and more. In all these cases, it is essential to ensure that the user has a pleasant, clear, and satisfying experience during the interaction.

And when we specifically talk about video games and UX, we are referring to the perceptions, behaviors and emotions of players during and after interaction with the game itself. The UX design process will therefore aim to create an intuitive, satisfying, and engaging experience through the user interface, character interaction, visual and aural feedback, and the mechanics, physics, and navigation aspects of the game in general.

videogames and ux design experience

The concept of User Experience is inevitably associated with that of User Interface (UI), which corresponds, in the practical application, to all the elements with which users directly interact and from which they receive feedback. In the video game environment, the UI will therefore include buttons, icons, menus, and control interfaces.

Thus an optimisation of the gaming experience inevitably requires an optimisation of the user interface so that it is clear and engaging, in order to avoid misunderstandings and frustration on the player’s part as much as possible.


Video games and UX design: aspects to consider

When designing a video game, there are numerous aspects that need to be considered which could affect the overall gaming experience.

Consider, for example, the concept of navigability in its most practical and concrete meaning: allowing the player to orient, walk, move and advance through the game in the most intuitive way possible. At the design level, for example, this might mean including a map (either always present or accessible via a dedicated tab) for keeping track of movements and directions, as well as objectives to be achieved and enemies. In short, just like in real life, in the digital world no one wants to wander around without knowing how to proceed and which direction to choose!

In a more general sense, the concept of navigability can also be applied to the overall player experience: navigating through menus, saves, quests, settings, and more could prove complex and frustrating if the game interface hasn’t been designed intuitively.

An additional aspect to consider when analysing the complex combination of video games and UX design is undoubtedly that of scalability: in other words, the game should be able to adapt to the needs of individual users in order to create a more unique and personalised experience.

videogames and ux design optimizationAn example of scalability could be the presence of an option to choose difficulty level before or during the game: thus both experienced and first-time players could have an experience suited to their level, without the risk of struggling with impossible missions or, on the contrary, overly boring ones.

Similarly, it can be useful to consider giving the player a choice between a ‘free’ version and a more ‘guided’ version: in the former case, a more experienced player might want to return to the game just to enjoy the experience (e.g., to complete memorable missions again or to have fun in ‘shooter’ mode); in the latter case, a beginner might benefit from a linear experience accompanied by tutorials, explanations, feedback, and information.

Scalability and navigability are just some of the aspects to consider when it comes to video games and UX design, but they are certainly good starting points for improving and simplifying the user experience, and thus their degree of satisfaction.


Video games and UX design: the fundamental element

When it comes to video games and UX design, there’s another important element that mustn’t be overlooked – perhaps the most fundamental aspect of ensuring an enjoyable and seamless experience: localising the game for different target markets.

In fact, launching a non-localised video game in a foreign market would significantly limit the pool of potential players (effectively excluding all those who don’t speak the foreign language). At the same time, it’s important not to underestimate the process of localising a video game, which could prove extremely tricky, thus requiring excellent language and cultural knowledge and a team of professionals in the field.

At Creative Words, we are experts at 360-degree translation and localisation: if you’re thinking of localising your video game for a foreign market and don’t know where to start, contact us obligation-free to figure out the best solution for your needs together.


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