Sunday, July 24, 2005

of Games and Learning [draft]

As I near the end of my first dabbling into the field of games and learning, I am begining to identify a few areas where further research, products, or some kind of implementation is required. Most of the ideas are questions or problems faced by people whom I am talking to, that I have been unable to comment upon.

I need more ideas, and people to tear at the very few i have. This is just the first draft and i will add to it, but here's for a start

A study I did into modelling of a simulation as a Adventure/RPG on the lines of the old LucasArts game with some components of D&D, led to a question of how to implement story trees in flash, people are doing this, but the process is extremely time consuming and mostly each condition is taken one at a time creating a gigantic pile of crosslinked swf files.

Flash based API or even a development structure to aid such development can be of great help. I have not been able to isolate an existing engine or the requisite flash technology to implement such a system, but i think this is a great opportunity.

Secondly a study into what the rural areas in India can contribute to the game development process could have amazing fallouts on learning games that are developed in India. Looking at the kind of techinical and multimedia skills that are popularized by so called 'computer training' institutes can provide cheaper means of production, more localized content and new-age employment 'IN' the rural areas.

I am currently working to create learning-version of the game development cycle primarily from the book 'Game Architecture and Design' by Andrew Rollings with inputs from processes of the eLearning industry. I think this is essential and after refinement the model could provide a structured and professional way to develop games for learning in India, and also identify people skills and resources required at various stages.

A system on the lines of an LMS, that supports game delivery is also an interesting idea, but more than that to create either technical or operational structures for such content in flash with support of next generation tools such as Breeze from macromedia (an Open system would be any day better) can help set up an easy distribution and deployment network.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Coffee in ur mouse

Two things we always have in front of us in the workplace are a mouse and a cup of coffee. Why not, the logic goes, combine the two and get the MugMouse? It only sounds completely unreasonable.

Untill this interaction designer, Louise Wictoria Klinker comes up with the MugMouse.

It´s just much slower. When filled with tea or coffee, the mug needs to be moved more carefully than a normal mouse. Working on the computer deserves a bit more time, reflection or personal involvement. MugMouse is in fact a reward: not only can you take a sip at your mouse but it acts as a signal to yourself and to others that you´re having a little more time away from work.

Part of SLOWEB, a project that rethinks the way people work at computer and introduces slowness in the life of hectic people.

Now there was someone wondering it would be cool if the MugMouse can keep ur coffee hot by using power through the USB port it has!

HFI sponsors World Usability Day

first of all i apologize for the delay in my contribution to this blog, there has been a slack in the activity of the blog and i accept that in a way it was my mistake and hoping that there would be more activity from now on...

so i came across this mail from a yahoo group tellin about the World Usability Day which will be celebrated on November 3rd this year across many cities, till now there has been initiative from pune only from india and ppl are planning in other cities like bangalore and delhi to celebrate this day; following is the mail from Prof. Anirudha Joshi, IDC, IITB.
HFI has been chosen as the lead sponsor for the 1st annual World
Usability Day. The Usability Professionals Association is organizing
this event and HFI's international presence will help promote World
Usability Day globally.
Free Webcast on The ROI of Usability Thursday, July 14, 2005
On November 3rd, 2005, a worldwide series of events will promote the
benefits of user-centered design, with the theme "Making It Easy."
"This is a great opportunity for usability to be recognized on a global
scale as the key differentiator for technology," says Jay More,
President of HFI. "We are proud to be involved with such a fantastic
"Any event that brings user experience to the forefront of people’s
minds is a good event for World Usability Day," says Elizabeth
Rosenzweig, Principal, Bubble Mountain Consulting, and Co-Chair of the
"The goal is to create a critical mass of enough interesting stories
that will capture the collective imagination of innovative people around
the world."
Organizations interested in improving the user experience of technology
are invited to participate in this event. Learn more...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Heuristics Evaluation

Heuristic Evaluations – one or more independent reviewers perform an evaluation and consolidate findings into one formal document. Evaluators use specific guidelines and look for issues that could impact product success.

Usually before a product is launched into the market… one of the important aspects that should be taken into consideration is an analysis of issues that might have an impact on the success of the product. One way of doing this is to perform a Usability test where the potential users are invited and the product is tested in terms of the feedback received from the users. In terms of GUI it basically may refer to the extent with which users find it easy to use the software!

But there is another cost effective way as well… Using the pre-existing research to consolidate and view the issues that may arise during product usage. Let’s look at the brief pros and cons of the process.


• Best for reviewing advanced prototypes

• Can be performed quickly

• Experts can identify major layout and presentation problems


• Do not involve real subjects

• May not identify task organization problems, which may be critical to overall success

Well then I guess the best idea would be to look at how it’s done?

Nielsen Heuristic Evaluations

The most-used set of heuristics is credited to Molich and Nielsen (1990). These heuristics include:

1. Use simple and natural dialogue

2. Speak the user’s language

3. Minimize use of the user’s memory

4. Be consistent

5. Provide feedback

6. Provide clearly marked exits

7. Provide shortcuts

8. Provide good error messages

9. Prevent errors

10. Provide help and documentation

In 1994 Nielsen published a better set of heuristics. These include:

1. Visibility of system status

2. Match between system and the real world

3. User control and freedom

4. Consistency and standards

5. Error prevention

6. Recognition rather than recall memory

7. Flexibility and efficiency of use

8. Aesthetic and minimalist design

9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Gerhardt-Powals Heuristic Evaluations

An improved, research-based, set of heuristics was devised by Gerhardt-Powals (1996). These include:

1. Automate unwanted workload:

• Free cognitive resources for high-level tasks

• Eliminate mental calculations, estimations, comparisons, and unnecessary thinking

2. Reduce uncertainty by displaying data clearly and obviously

3. Reduce cognitive load by combining lower-level data into a higher-level summation

4. Present new information with meaningful aids to interpretation:

• Use a familiar framework, making it easier to absorb

• Use everyday terms, metaphors, etc.

5. Use names that are conceptually related to function:

• Make it context-dependent

• Try to improve recall and recognition

6. Group data in consistently meaningful ways to decrease search time

7. Limit data-driven tasks:

• Reduce the time spent assimilating raw data

• Make appropriate use of color and graphics

8. Include only the information a user needs at a given time:

• Allow users to remain focused on critical data

• Exclude extraneous information that is not relevant to current tasks

9. Provide multiple coding of data when appropriate

10. Practice judicious redundancy (to resolve the possible conflict between heuristics six and eight)