Publication: Using Genres to Customize Usability Evaluations of Video Games

Video games are varied, with vastly different visual layouts and interaction styles; however, most games that share a common genre still have many user interface similarities. These similarities suggest that genres can be used as a conceptual framework for examining design issues in video games, and for developing a deeper understanding of how the design process can be specialized for specific types of games. In this paper, we consider how genre relates to one aspect of design--the usability of games, which deals with players' ability to learn, control, and understand a game interface. We report results from a study where we coded usability problems in reviews of 108 commercial video games. The review set included 18 games from each of six major game genres. We statistically analyzed the problems from each genre, and found significant differences between many of the genres. We present usability profiles for each genre based on the problem distributions that we found. The profiles describe both common and infrequent problems in each genre and provide details on how they commonly occur in games. The profiles can be used to specialize usability evaluations by helping designers focus on common problems seen in games from each genre.




David Pinelle
College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
Nelson Wong
University of Saskatchewan
Tad Stach
Queen's University


Game Heuristics
Video gaming is a common and popular entertainment. The primary goal of video games is to entertain and engage users.


Pinelle, D., Wong, N., Stach, T. 2008. Using Genres to Customize Usability Evaluations of Video Games. In Proceedings of Future Play 2008, 129-136. DOI=10.1145/1496984.1497006.


@inproceedings {140-p129-pinelle,
author= {David Pinelle and Nelson Wong and Tad Stach},
title= {Using Genres to Customize Usability Evaluations of Video Games},
booktitle= {Proceedings of Future Play 2008},
year= {2008},
pages= {129-136}