03 January 2010

[Literature] Playability heuristics for mobile multi-player games

by Korhonen et al.in 2007

The authors separate multi-player games in 2 categories:

  • online games
  • proximity games

The authors define a persistent multi-player game as a game maintaining the game state from a game session to another. My summary of this paper focuses mainly on MMOG, that is to say multi-player games belonging to the "online" and persistent categories defined by the authors. Some games mentioned in the paper are for mobile devices such as smart phones or portable consoles. I feel like these games actually fit into the MMOG category, even though MMOG on these platforms/hardwares does not seem to mean the same thing as MMOG on PC or home consoles. But I can imagine a future where portable consoles embed wireless communication and computational technologies powerful enough to enable playing MMOG anywhere in a city.


The game heuristics proposed by the authors are quite similar in their purpose to Nielsen's HCI heuristics. Indeed, the authors previously defined a playability heuritics model for mobile games containing 3 modules: game usability, mobility and gameplay. Based on previous research works and the analysis of 3 mobile multi-player games, the authors propose 8 new heuristics for multi-player mobile games. Below is a table of the heuristics and quick examples I have found for these heuristics in MMOG.

the game supports communication instant textual chat, vocal chat
there are reasons to communicate activities performed by group of players (raids, group pvp), trade, chitchating
the game supports groups and communities looking-for-group flag, challenging boss monsters for groups of players, guild headquarters, factions, class-specific forum sections
the game helps the player to find other players and game instances /who-like functionality, NPC broadcasting players messages
the game provides information about other players PVP ladder, Control Panel-like functionality
the design overcomes lack of players and enables soloing Healing NPC, (common) transportation NPC, «trash mobs» and soloable mini-bosses
the design minimizes deviant behavior: cheating, exploiting, hacking, grief/anti-fair-play filtering rude words
the design hides the effect of the network, the issues are latency, disconnections and pricing of data traffic (if the player has to pay for the data transfered) lost-packets dead-reckoning

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