Game Usability? What is it?

While looking up concepts that could relate to Game Feel I found i found the concept Game Usability. Katherine Isbister and Noah Shaffer say that usability is about how intuitive and effective the thing is to accomplish tasks. Game Usability is that applied to a game medium but that term is also applied to the broader idea of the game experience. Today I took and looked into Game Usability: Advancing the Player Experience by Katherine Isbister and Noah Schaffer. (2008)


As I don’t feel that I have time to read a 388 pages long book  all the way I tried to skim trough and get to the bigger broad picture. This is what I noticed looking at it.

While they say it’s written by Katherine Isbister and Noah Schaffer it’s not completely true. The chapters is written/interviewed with different people each one with creates a lot of variety as they try to give insight into what they have learned working inside the industry. The chapters are split into different parts about different aspects on usability. While there are many different thinks discussed a mayor theme was “How to make it usable for as many players as possible”. From the very start it states very clear that the book is written from the industry for the industry. The second chapter even talk about the importance of getting profit from the product. It’s a shame as exploring niche and experiential design can yield new insights but this seems not the focus for this book.A lot of the chapters however follows the theme of trying to find if something is objectively good by playtesting, measuring game metrics and psychology. Interestingly the book does mention Game feel, Heck it’s Steve Swink that write it and from what I saw he pretty much says what he said about Game Feel in his own book in a more compressed manner.

While the book might give some good insights I couldn’t shake of the feeling of the rigidness of how to do something described, I might read more of it to find some golden nuggets of wisdom but my initial impressions made me not completely sold on the book.

/ Fredrik

Game Usability? What is it?

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