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Usability Heuristics for Networked Multiplayer Games

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Association for Computing Machinery


Networked multiplayer games must support a much wider variety of interactions than single-player games because networked games involve communication and coordination between players. This means that designers must consider additional usability issues that relate to group play - but there are currently no usability engineering methods that are specifically oriented towards the needs of multiplayer games. To address this problem, we developed a new set of usability heuristics, called Networked Game Heuristics (NGH), which can be used in the design and evaluation of networked multiplayer games. The new heuristics were identified by analyzing problem reports from 382 reviews of networked PC games, covering six main genres. We aggregated problem reports into ten problem categories (covering issues from session management to cheating to training for novice players) and developed heuristics that describe how these usability problems can be avoided. We tested the new heuristics by having evaluators use them and an existing set to assess the usability of two networked games. Evaluators found more usability problems with NGH, and stated that the new heuristics were better for evaluating multiplayer game usability. Our research is the first to present networked game heuristics that are derived from real problem reports, and the first to evaluate the heuristics' effectiveness in a realistic usability test.


Pinelle, David; Wong, Nelson; Stach, Tadeusz; Gutwin, Carl (2009): Usability Heuristics for Networked Multiplayer Games. Proceedings of the 2009 ACM International Conference on Supporting Group Work. DOI: 10.1145/1531674.1531700. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery. pp. 169–178. Sanibel Island, Florida, USA