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Eye tracking could benefit games industry claims leading UX firm

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

June 15, 2011 | 3 min read

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 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.

The participants in the study were given the task of setting up and playing Reflex Ridge (pictured), 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.

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, said: “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.

User Vision specialises in usability testing, web accessibility, eye tracking, user needs assessments and expert usability evaluations across platforms including websites, interactive TV, software, mobile phones and consumer products. It works with the likes of the BBC, HSBC, Nokia and UK Government departments.

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