Assessing the Impact of Visual Design on the Interpretation of Aggregated Playtesting Data Visualization

Gustavo Tondello
Oct 1 · 2 min read

Making effective use of data generated from players interacting with games (often via playtesting to improve game quality) is a challenging task since the datasets are often mixed and very large. To address this, various visualization techniques have been introduced to help game developers cope with the data. While the role of visual design in creating effective and readable data representations has long been recognized in the field of information visualization, it is an unaddressed area in GUR. To start closing this gap in the literature, this paper presents a first study into this subject.

We show how changes in visual properties (in particular shading and transparency) affect users’ perception and interpretation of the same visualization. Given the current direction in GUR towards utilizing big datasets and the need for aggregated visualization for this purpose, our paper makes important contributions as we:

a) implement four different visual design alternatives of an aggregated data visualization;

b) discuss the advantages and limitations of each design through a study with professional game developers; and

c) discuss the importance of visual design and how different designs of one part of a visualization may affect the readability of the whole.

The results of our study indicate how visual design impacts — either positively or negatively — the interpretation of the visualized data and facilities different tasks. Thus, choosing the right visual representation for a given visualization requires careful consideration of the associated limitations. Based on our results we also reflect on multiple implications of visual design which, in turn, can serve as useful guidelines for the design of in-game data visualizations in general. Moreover, our findings also show that the impact visual design choices can exert is multidimensional and should not be viewed in isolation.

Contact author: Günter Wallner

CHI PLAY session:
Analyzing & Visualizing Player Behavior
Friday, 25 October 2019, 14:00–15:30

Please feel free to also write comments or questions for the authors in the space below!


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Gustavo Tondello

Written by

Instructional support coordinator, University of Waterloo. Researcher, HCI Games Group. Logosophy student.



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