Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Computer Science Engineers Improve Video Game Testing By Analyzing The User

Date:
June 8, 2006
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
USC engineers are perfecting a games user testing tool that captures and analyzes play experience to automatically detect weakness and flaws -- and it may soon gauge player emotional involvement.

What's wrong with this picture? A user is unsure what to do next, and the immersadata software can allow game developers to see what happened.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southern California – Viterbi School of Engineering

USC engineers are perfecting a games user testing tool that captures and analyzes play experience to automatically detect weakness and flaws -- and it may soon gauge player emotional involvement.

Related Articles


User testing is a critical and key element crucial element of creating a new game - books have been written about it. But it remains a highly subjective and quite unstructured exercise. "Traditionally," says Tim Marsh, a post-doctoral researcher at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Integrated Media Systems Center, "game companies hire teenagers, and turn them loose trying to find flaws and gaps in the game," which they report either verbally or in writing, along with their impressions."

This is neither systematic nor scientific says Marsh, who will present what he believes is a better way at a conference presentation entitled "Continuous and Unobtrusive Capture of User-Player Behavior and Experience to Assess and Inform Game Design and Development, to be given at the Fun ‘n Games 2006 Conference in England on June 26, 2006.

Marsh's method analyzes "immersidata." USC Viterbi School computer scientist Cyrus Shahabi, one of the researchers on the project, coined the term several years ago to refer to the machine-readable record of commands sent to the computer by keyboards, joysticks and other controls, collected in parallel with a videotape recording of the player at the game session.

An IMSC-developed tool called "ISIS" (Immersidata AnalySIS) can "identify data of interest and index events within the videotape. For the game development application, ISIS can return indexed examples of six different kinds of occurrences, or "points" in the immersidata/video record

* Activity completion points, when the player has finished a final task associated with a mission.
* Task completion points, a subset under this, allowing a researcher to go back over the performance of a task.
* Break points, times when nothing seems to be happening; the player isn't moving and no events occur. This can be distraction, or a break, but "break is a very important concept … because it provides clues to what interrupts players.”
* Wandering points, somewhat similar times when the user-player is moving, but doesn't select any objects .
* Critical events. Some elements of the game are the hardest, and these can be pre-selected, so that action leading up to accomplishment or non-accomplishment can be studied
* Navigation errors. Collisions with a wall or object potentially point to inadequate or poor design causing user disorientation.

By backtracking from the points, investigators can see how the point developed. Similar patterns backing up parallel points can be clear indications of problem in the game.

Marsh and Shahabi used for their tests a "serious" (i.e., teaching) game designed to instruct students in human anatomy and physiology. The study analyzed sessions by 16 undergraduate students, with sessions of 13 of them intensively studies.

Though Marsh and the group tested the technique on a serious game, “the techniques are for use testing all game genres, entertainment and non-entertainment,” Marsh said.

The system already works extremely effectively to find problems in the areas it is set to look for, Marsh reports. Improvements are already in the works to add functionality to find and identify other potential problem areas — to recognize repetition patters by players, and to replace and/or supplement the video capture with a replay of the game from the player's point of view, for example.

Marsh is also working on ways to use immersidata and to capture more aspects of the game experience, including particularly the emotional/empathetic elements. Marsh recently wrote a chapter on this, entitled "Vicarious Experience: Staying There Connected With and Through Our Own and Other Characters" in a new book, Gaming as Culture (McFarland Press, 2006)

In addition to Marsh and Shahabi, USC computer science doctoral candidate Kiyoung Yang played a key role on the project, Marsh said. Shamus Smith of the University of Durham also participated.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, and by Professor, Shahabi's Presidental Early Career for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) grant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Computer Science Engineers Improve Video Game Testing By Analyzing The User." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060608091810.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2006, June 8). Computer Science Engineers Improve Video Game Testing By Analyzing The User. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060608091810.htm
University of Southern California. "Computer Science Engineers Improve Video Game Testing By Analyzing The User." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060608091810.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Star Wars-Inspired Prototype Creates Holographic Display

Star Wars-Inspired Prototype Creates Holographic Display

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — A prototype holographic display named Leia - after the Star Wars princess who appeared in holographic form asking Obi-Wan Kenobu for help - is demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA and Samsung Launch Embedded Wireless Charging Range

IKEA and Samsung Launch Embedded Wireless Charging Range

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Samsung and IKEA hope their new embedded wireless charging products, launched at Barcelona&apos;s Mobile World Congress, will tempt consumers eager for plugless power. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Samsung Unveils $30,000 'Dream Doghouse'

Samsung Unveils $30,000 'Dream Doghouse'

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) — On display at the Crufts dog show in England, the &apos;dog kennel of the future&apos; comes with features like a doggie treadmill and Samsung tablet. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Mobile apps are turning smartphones into a personal doctors, with users able to measure heart rate, blood pressure and even blood sugar. But will it change our behaviour? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins