The elusive power of video games for education

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What is this article about?

Educators interested in using video games for educational purposes should be aware of the considerable difficulties in developing a fun and engaging game, and take into account the user experience (UX). Game developers interested in education should understand the principles of learning, and the importance of transfer when creating an educational game.

 

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Cognitive Psychology Applied to User Experience in Video Games

This article was originally published by Springer in February 2016 as part of the Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games. Article reproduced here with their authorisation. 

 

Definition

The user experience (UX) entails a person’s perceptions and interactions with a product or software (such as a video game) and the satisfaction and emotions elicited via this interaction. UX overall refers to an over-arching discipline focused on evaluation and improvement of users’ experience of a given product or software in development.

Cognitive psychology is a discipline dedicated to understanding the human mind via mental processes such as problem solving, language, perception, attention, and memory.

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5 Misconceptions about UX (User Experience) in Video Games

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Illustration by Laura Teeples

UX Invaders: We Come In Peace!

User Experience (UX) is becoming very trendy albeit fairly new in the video game industry, so there are still a lot of misconceptions regarding what it is (and what it’s not). I will try to tackle these misconceptions and convince you – if need be – that UX is indeed your friend.

To explain it in a nutshell, UX explores how it is like for the target audience (the players) to experience your game (and everything beyond, such as downloading the game, consulting forums, etc.). It uses neuroscience and psychology knowledge and applies game user research methodologies (e.g. playtests and analytics) to make sure that the game has good usability and is immersive (although I prefer to refer to it as gameflow).

When thinking about my experience advocating for UX (or neuroscience) in a game development team, there are 5 main misconceptions about UX I very frequently need to address:

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