User Testing in VR
and how to make a helpful questionnaire
During my time working in an accelerated VR coworking space, I had the unique opportunity to put lots of testers into my experience. I’ll be definitely taking this for granted as I move onto projects into the future, but I have learned many things to streamline the user-testing process. I’ll first explain why testing is so important for game development and why 6 degrees of freedom offers so many unique variables to user experience.
In VR, it is important to the user as to what feels good. All major manufacturers of HMDs are including some form of hand input into VR, so it’s important to recognize it as a definitive input method for at least the next few years. For new adopters to be comfortable, UX-design has to be well thought out, and challenged constantly as testers continue to play the experience. In my game, I put a lot of effort into making the controls as self explanatory as possible, because users should be able to jump right in without much instruction to the controls or premise. All of this design could never be truly finalized without testers offering their feedback and insight.
When testing, I tried my best to stay quiet and let them figure out the world on their own. This gave mostly impartial results when I asked them to reflect upon their experience and provided the closest thing I can get to what release opinions will be like. Although, some people like to have things explained to them verbally, so for them it gives me a chance to explain the core ideas of the VR experience.
The customer is always right. Wait, wrong industry… or is it? It’s really important to listen to each of your testers opinions and asking them the right questions can offer valuable insight onto the development process. Each opinion really matters and even if they hate your game, it’s important to ask why instead of just waiting for a response that you like. Maybe your experience is not for everyone, and that’s okay — but looking for patterns in responses is important to highlight key issues and requested features.
While developing Bubble Labs, I created a small questionnaire to streamline the testing process and provide good empirical data for decision making. The questionnaire consisted first of 5 yes or no questions, it was here that I could get quick data points on whether new features were working. One that guided my onboarding process was the question “Was the trigger sensitivity apparent from the start?”. I asked this question very early on in the development process and as I tried to combat it with new features like haptics and tooltips, I could see the shift in user satisfaction.
The last question I asked was free response and was my favorite:
How would you describe this game to a friend?
This question is brilliant because it elicits a natural response from the tester. It’s purely psychological as it tricks them into providing you with a friendly answer rather than one that is geared to what they think you want to hear. This was added as per recommendation from a colleague, and it really gave me powerful insight on trends and common descriptors. These descriptors really helped me create a vision for this project, and focus my attention to polishing the most recognized aspects.
In the future, I’d love to implement a more robust questionnaire inspired by Usoh, Catena, Arman and Slater as per this. However, what I did enjoy about my approach was the carefree attitude, and the genuine responses I received. Some feedback on my approach would be greatly appreciated and it would be great if some readers could pose their own go-to questionnaires.