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Many games have been ported from the PC platform to the cell phone. Because of the screen size, however, they tend to be simpler and sometimes more abstract. To what extent does this adaptation of the interface affect the experience of playing the same game?




Figure 6.17


Two screenshots from the game Snake – the one on the left is played on a PC and the one on the right on a cell phone. In both games, the goal is to move the snake (the blue thing and the black squares, respectively) towards targets that pop up on the screen (e.g. the bridge, the star) and to avoid obstacles (e.g. a flower, the end of the snake’s tail). When a player successfully moves his snake head over or under a target, the snake increases its length by one blob or block. The longer the snake gets the harder it is to avoid obstacles. If the snake hits an obstacle the game is over. On the PC version there are lots of extra features that make the game more complicated, including more obstacles and ways of moving. The cell phone version has a simple 2D bird’s eye representation, whereas the PC version adopts a 3D third-person avatar perspective.




In Activity 6.4 we asked you to compare the experience of playing the game of Snake on a PC with playing on a cell phone. For this assignment, we want you to consider the pros and cons of playing the same game using different interfaces. Select three interfaces, other than the GUI and mobile ones (e.g. tangible, wearable, and shareable) and describe how the game could be redesigned for each of these, taking into account the user group being targeted. For example, the tangible game could be designed for young children, the wearable interface for young adults, and the shareable interface for elderly people.


(a)    Go through the research and design issues for each interface and consider whether they are relevant for the game setting and what issues they raise. For the wearable interface, issues to do with comfort and hygiene are important when designing the game.




(b)   Describe a hypothetical scenario of how the game would be played for each of the three interfaces.




(c)    Consider specific design issues that will need to be addressed. For example, for the shareable surface would it be best to have a tabletop or a wall-based surface? How will the users interact with the snake for each of the different interfaces; by using a pen, fingertips, or other input device? Is it best to have a representation of a snake for each player or one they take turns to play with? If multiple snakes are used, what will happen if one person tries to move another person’s snake? Would you add any other rules? And so on.




(d)   Compare the pros and cons of designing the Snake game using the three different inter faces with respect to how it is played on the cell phone and the PC.

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