Introducing The Next Level
As a kid, I remember winning a copy of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the Nintendo GameCube as a prize from my dad’s company’s Christmas party. At the time, I didn’t even own a GameCube to play the game on. This chance victory, however, gave me a good reason to convince my dad to buy me the console. Ever since then, video games have played a role in my life.
I’ve put days worth of time into Call of Duty, kicked some ass in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and swore allegiance to the brotherhood repeatedly in Assassin’s Creed.
Nonetheless, I’m not someone you would call an avid gamer anymore, but I do understand the language of video games, am relatively aware of what is going on in the industry and have periods of time where I seriously indulge in gaming.
My winter break a few months back is one such example. I sunk hours into two indie masterpieces, Hollow Knight and Celeste, that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who likes video games.
Whenever I begin to spend time playing video games, I notice a surge in my consumption of YouTube content related to video games. The winter break was no different. Shocked by the brilliance of Hollow Knight and Celeste, the videos I began looking discussed game design.
This is when I stumbled upon a YouTube channel known as Razbuten. In two or three days of discovering his channel, I had binged nearly all his videos and loved every moment of it.
A multi-part series about gaming as a non-gamer particularly resonated with me. The premise of these videos revolves around an informal experiment that Raz conducts on his wife who is someone that has never really played video games. The idea for the series started when his wife, or as he (jokingly) likes to call her The Lady I Live With, asked him if she could play Hollow Knight. As someone who had played the game, he knew this would be interesting to watch considering how challenging Hollow Knight can be. However, instead of simply saying yes, he decided to run an unscientific experiment where he would watch her play a variety of video games. A few minutes into Hollow Knight, he knew the results were gonna be very interesting.
Over the course of this video series, Raz has made various thought-provoking observations, including the elusive R3 and L3 buttons on controllers, how even the most basic gaming tasks present themselves as intense challenges for beginners and more.
Although a sample size of one is not ample to make conclusions, these observations are asking to be further studied.
As someone studying User Experience (UX) design, the observations made had a special appeal. A lot of the observations were not actionable (or at least easily actionable) and were rather an interesting look in gaming as a non-gamer. However, those that were actionable often had lessons and reminders not only within the scope of game UX and instead UX as a whole.
Inspired by this video series, various talks from the Game Developer Conference and the plethora of YouTube videos I have consumed, I decided to create The Next Level, a blog series that discusses user experience design as it pertains to video games. I will start by discussing what game UX is and then move onto some of the concepts Raz goes over in the next few posts. But, the user experience of video games doesn’t only need to be improved for beginners. There is so much that can be applied to make video games better. As my understanding grows, we will slowly move to that.
The first post in the series will go up in day or two after this post goes up. I will begin by discussing what Game UX is and exploring the scope of where it is applicable in the game design process.
This series serves to be a journey for me as well. I am new to the world of Game UX and hope to learn as I move along and appreciate feedback. If you work in Game UX, I would love to chat sometime and get some insight.
Below is a catalog of all the posts I’ve made to The Next Level that will be updated over time.
Catalogue of The Next Level
- Defining Game UX (coming soon)