News Article

Players in Eye-Tracking Glasses Find Kinect Confusing

Posted by James Newton

What's it all about?

Using Kinect is supposed to be easy for experienced and new gamers alike, but user experience consultancy User Vision has just finished a study that shows the sensor still has work to do.

Using eye-tracking glasses, User Vision studied how users played Reflex Ridge in Kinect Adventures, claiming that vital instructions were ignored or misinterpreted:

Players found that the game design of Reflex Ridge was confusing at many points throughout the set-up, the instructions screen and into the game itself. Additionally, some of the interactions were too responsive and caused many players to make involuntary selection. This resulted in dissatisfaction and impatience.

While we here at KINECTaku think Reflex Ridge is probably one of the most easily understood games available for Kinect, it's still interesting to see how Microsoft's sensor isn't quite fulfilling its promise of getting everyone involved in games. Here's the full press release, including more about those eyeball-tracking specs.

Hi tech specs give game developers insight into what players really see

New eye tracking technology could help video game designers to increase customer satisfaction by improving the in-gaming experience for their players, according to a new report by User Vision, one of Europe’s leading independent user experience consultancies.

Using the latest eye tracking glasses, which allow researchers to see exactly what gamers are looking at while playing, User Vision tested the usability of Microsoft’s new Kinect for Xbox 360. Kinect, uses a 3D camera and the player controls the game through body and hand movements, which are recognised by gesture control technology.

The participants in the study were given the task of setting up and playing Reflex Ridge, one of the mini-games within the Kinect Adventures game.

The team of testers discovered that while the Kinect system itself is easy to use and intuitive, the design of the game can negatively impact user experience. Players found that the game design of Reflex Ridge was confusing at many points throughout the set-up, the instructions screen and into the game itself. Additionally, some of the interactions were too responsive and caused many players to make involuntary selection. This resulted in dissatisfaction and impatience.

Furthermore, eye tracking glasses showed that while players noticed instructions that flashed up on screen during the game, the information was not processed in such a way that would have an impact on game performance. In particular, more than a third of players misunderstood or ignored warning messages to “move backwards” when they stepped out of the area that the Kinect sensor can detect.

Simon Duke, usability consultant at User Vision, says: “The eye tracker technology gives us a real insight into how people really interact with the games, what works and what doesn’t. Using eye tracking glasses we can identify which instructions are ignored and which are misunderstood.

“If people try games and don’t like them, they probably won’t try again, so it’s important they enjoy it first time. This is an important tool for designers, who should be using this information to improve their communication with players, in particular to help novice gamers quickly see what they can do to improve their in-game and so enjoy the game more.”

Designed by Swedish firm Tobii, the glasses represent the latest developments in mobile eye trackers. New technology and design enable unobtrusive, time-efficient and accurate mobile eye tracking studies in real-world environments. User Vision will deliver a presentation on the full results of the testing at EyeTrackUX 2011, Tobii’s annual conference.

Tobii’s representative and UK reseller of the technology, Jon Ward of Acuity comments: “We are always delighted to work with User Vision and this study demonstrates their commitment to always looking for the latest technology to advance research.”

Established in 2000, User Vision specialises in usability testing, web accessibility, eye tracking, user needs assessments and expert usability evaluations. The company tests and improves usability across many platforms including websites, interactive TV, software, mobile phones, keyboards, and consumer products. They also provide research to consumer behaviour such as emotional and attention research applicable for advertising.

At the heart of User Vision’s work lies the basic concept that a website or product that is easy to use gives a business competitive advantage. The company takes a straightforward, practical approach to user needs analysis, problem solving and usability testing, leading to effective design solutions.

User Vision has pioneered usability and accessibility for many years working with organisations like the BBC, HSBC, Nokia and many UK Government departments. Having conducted projects throughout the UK, Europe, the Middle East and even in South America User Vision is a powerful, independent force in usability and accessibility.

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