As a game designer, finding ways to build connections between the person playing the game and the characters of the game is always a top priority. However, many game designers often neglect user experience in favor of focusing on other aspects of game design such as user interface or animation. Ensuring that the user experience is always at the top of mind will help any game designer be far more successful in their endeavors.
What is Game Design?
Oftentimes, people get game design confused with game development. While game development refers to writing the code that brings a game into existence, game design is the underlying foundation of game development. A game designer creates the ideas that form the storyline, characters, missions, items, and more within a game. They work hand-in-hand with game developers to ensure that their creative vision is being developed properly.
Game designers sometimes hold a college degree, or they may have developed their skills from an online game design bootcamp that taught them everything they need to know about the field.
What is User Experience?
User experience, sometimes called UX, refers to a segment of game design that focuses on the psychology of the player. Defined broadly, creating a game with a strong user experience simply means developing a game that is enjoyable for players. For example, as you think about designing a game, you need to consider how difficult you make the game. This means taking into account the age of your target audience. After all, an incredibly complex game that is targeted for children will likely not be successful.
Going further, user experience touches smaller components of game design such as indicating to players that something is about to happen, such as music becoming dramatic, or integrating feedback messages for players when they take some type of action. Little details such as the above affect how a viewer feels while playing the game and can make an impact on their overall experience.
The Difference Between User Experience and User Interface
While the two often get confused, user experience and user interface are drastically different. The user interface of a game refers to any buttons, toggles, icons, equipment, or other items that are required to play a game. User experience, on the other hand, refers to the actual interaction that a person has with a game, including all thoughts a person has regarding that interaction.
Why Does UX Matter in Game Design?
Whether you are learning how to become a game designer or are working on designing your first game, understanding why UX matters can help make you a better designer:
- Building the player’s emotional connection to the game
For a person to truly enjoy the video game they are playing, they need to develop an emotional attachment to the storyline. After all, if you’re trying to design a dramatic story with an emotional climax, but a player has no emotional connection to the story, the message will not get across. Focus on making a storyline relatable to the average person so that a player can find a way to connect the game to themselves.
- Building a connection between the player and their character
Secondly, UX matters because a player needs to become attached to their character. The best video games are those in which a player feels as if the actions happening to their character are actually happening to one of their friends. Going further, many successful games often create villains who players actually feel some sense of anger towards due to the successful writing of those characters.
- Ensuring players understand the rules and points of the game
Finally, creating a strong user experience within a video game also serves the purpose of ensuring players understand the rules of a game. After all, if the objective of a game is unclear and there is no guidance on what players should be doing, those players may become frustrated and quit the game.
The Bottom Line
A game cannot truly be great without a strong user experience. After all, if there is nobody who wants to play the game then the game will never generate revenue. To that point, it’s crucial that all game designers focus on building games which feature characters who audiences can connect with, along with a thought-provoking storyline that keeps players hooked from start-to-finish. Focus on user experience when designing a game above all else to ensure its success.