Our design opportunity for this semester was to conduct research into the behavior changes of video gamers during the pandemic and design a new audio solution that addresses their needs and frustrations.
Global pandemic COVID-19 has created a drastic increase in play time for gamers as well as an increase in users. This includes gamers actually gaming, but also increase in engagement through watching streamers on livestream platforms like Twitch. Global health leaders and gaming companies alike have banded together to slow the spread of COVID-19. The World Health Organization along with 18 game industry leaders launched #PlayApartTogether in March, an initiative that encourages social distancing, connecting with friends virtually, and responsible health measures.
In this new world of connected gaming, there is an increasing need to incorporate new forms of chatting, audio, video and other interactive elements that would provide an even more immersive experience.
We focused on balancing audio inputs because this was the biggest frustration among gamers we researched and talked to. Each gamer has unique preferences to how they want to set their sound levels while gaming, depending on various internal or external factors.
Our group decided upon a digital sound overlay after conducting research and doing multiple rounds of ideation on various physical and digital products.
For the best use of our product the user would:
The personas were created for our team to keep the goals of our user group in mind when we did primary and secondary research as well as guide our ideation.
A literature review was conducted to give us a better understanding of our problem space and also to help us gain insight onto questions to ask ourselves when we conducted future research methods.
COVID-19 effects on gaming
There is growing support for connected online gaming.
E-sports revenue may have decreased, but viewership has increased.
Audio software use
Many gamers actually do not prefer specific audio software and will most often use whatever came with their equipment.
Video game industry and market
There has been an uptick in Twitch engagement- engagement doubled since quarantines started.
For competitive gaming, surround sound is not really necessary.
Gamers play for a variety of reasons and in different contexts.
To connect the research done previously, we created clusters of important information that would then drive our survey and interview questions.
The purpose of this survey was to gather information from users about their behaviors before and after COVID, as well as their headphone usage to help narrow our scope. We also wanted to identify potential candidates for interviews. We focused on three sections- Demographics, Gamer Behaviors, and Headphone Use.
It was important for us to ask a variety of questions to gain further insight on gamer behavior.
This was a method of sorting through survey responses by making use of a hypothesis and confirmation through data.
Quantitative data gave us insight on where gamer behaviors overlapped through numbers.Quantitative data gave us insight on where gamer behaviors overlapped through numbers.
Qualitative data include short answer anecdotes that provide more personal insight to a gamers' thoughts, emotions, and most importantly behaviors.
The purpose of conducting interviews was to gain insight from gamers’ first-hand experiences, with an emphasis on gaming behaviors and use of headphones.
We sketched to generate ideas based on research insights. With research insights in mind, we individually sketched blue sky ideas in both the physical and digital space. Upon reviewing the sketches, most could be placed into three main categories:
We had a lot of ideas, therefore we engaged in collaborative sketching to constrain ideation. We found our ideas promoted several key elements.
To explain the use of our intended product, our team used the storyboard scenario that I illustrated to describe the effects of using our product on a gamer's gameplay and the newfound immersion it can bring.
In this part of the scenario, the gamer is trying to lower the volume of another gamer but has to tab out of the game to go into their sound settings to turn them down. Upon returning, they have found out they lost the game.
In this part of the scenario, the gamer is trying to lower the volume of another gamer. Using the soundboard overlay, the gamer can quickly adjust their sound without tabbing out whilst keeping an eye on the game; greatly improving immersion.
After deciding on a digital sound overlay, we proceeded to create mid-fi mockups based on our sketches.
Our mockups focused on these elements:
I think this project really got me to open my eyes to various ways to prototype something which I originally thought could only be a digital project. Whilst the end result did end up being a digital project, my team and I really expanded our research into various avenues of design and research just to make sure our final concepts were the best fit.