Gaming is fast picking up as a new (and entirely legitimate) hobby for many people across the globe. Gaming is not only restricted to games designed specifically for PC gaming platforms but also renditions of games (such as popular card and board games) that have existed for centuries. Enthusiasts now play these renditions across the world. Board games like Chess, and card games like Rummy and Teen patti, now have an online presence for their aficionados to challenge one another and play these games. This does present challenges for some games, where people are still a bit hesitant to pick the game online. How can a virtual environment replicate these exacting statistics and ensure that the game is as authentic as the one that’s played in a non-virtual environment? Many people assume that playing games online is not as rewarding an experience as playing with real people. That statement could have been true a decade back, but with the advent of UX design and gamification, there is hardly any difference now while playing any variety of games with people in person or playing these games online! UX Design or User Experience Design is a revolutionary new perspective on how to view products which have a powerful utility and functioning online. UX Design intends to consider a product and its function in its entirety and not on a few constructs. The key thought behind UX Design is:
- The understanding that all products in today’s environment are integrated.
- All products are composed of several characteristics that must come together to showcase the product better.
- To enhance user engagement and experience.
- Making products fun to use
The environment: The first thing to do is to create an environment online that feels like a real one. This may sound easy, but it requires dedication and attention to detail to pull it off effectively. Let us take the example of a simple Indian rummy game. The environment must be aesthetically pleasing, pleasurable to interact with, not very complex and having a full set of functionalities. UX Design helps since it does not consider any of these characteristics as separate entities. Instead, it views them as interconnected characteristics which must be jointly developed and enhanced. Music, colour themes and functions must all come together to ensure that the user finds themselves wholly immersed in the environment of the game, and not consider themselves to be separate from it. Websites have managed that admirably and consistently strive to create even more immersive environments for their patrons.
Usability: The environment created for a particular game is only going to be as good as its usability. Though the initial pull for the gamer is the immersive environment they experience, they will stay if the environment fulfills all the rules and characteristics of the game at hand. UX design strives to understand the game and its rules. It incorporates this into the game environment while the gamification process sets out to mask the tedious functionality aspects of it, with fun trophies and exciting offers.
Gamer psychology and skill: The end user of the entire created construct of a game is the player. No online game is complete if it does not consider the player sitting at the other end. There also has to be a clear demarcation between players with high skill levels, and those who are relatively new to the game. If this is not done, then many unfair competitions will be set between players having a large disparity in skill leading to the higher skilled players getting bored, and less experienced players getting frustrated. There needs to be a fair and easy system of hierarchy in the game. A player can increase his skill level and play against people that match his skill level. Gamification aids in this process tremendously by setting many accomplishment trophies (like hours played, games won), which can serve as benchmarks for players to improve their skill level and performance. Now players who wish to enhance their skills in say, a game like Rummy, can download the game, learn how to play rummy, and keep playing it repeatedly.
Understanding the game: This is a difficult one to master and before the advent of UX Design and gamification, it was almost impossible to implement. So far, the assumption is that a gamer who comes on the virtual gaming platform knows the game thoroughly. But what about those gamers who are new to the game and wish to learn its rules and nuances? For them, UX Design comes in due to its all-encompassing viewpoint, and it ensures that even those gamers with no knowledge of the game can become proficient in it within a matter of days or even hours! To aid with this process, which may become tedious or frustrating to a new user, the gamification kicks in with numerous trophies and achievements to be unlocked.
Gaming has come a long way, and now gamers develop gaming platforms from scratch, thereby giving more time and attention to the intricacies and requirements of every game. This creates an environment which is conducive for the proper working of the game while providing an environment almost tailor-made for gamers.