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Better Games Through Usability Evaluation and Testing (23 Jun 2005)
There are many reasons why usability is important in games. For one, playing games is voluntary. If the player has to struggle with problems that make playing less fun than doing something else, then there is nothing to stop the player from switching off the console. This is a serious risk as the user experience is very sensitive to usability problems. Even the smallest glitch or hiccup in the user interface may render an otherwise good game into a rather annoying experience. For example, if managing the inventory in a role playing game is not fluent enough or restarting a race in a driving game is tedious the player is not likely to enjoy playing the game.

Another reason why usability is important in games is the competition. Competition in the market is fierce. The gamers can choose which game to buy from a wide variety of titles; if the controls are not fluent in one soccer game, there are five more titles left from which to choose. Usability is one of the key factors that make the game stand out of the crowd.

The delicacy of the user experience and heavy competition actually make usability more important in games than it is in other software. There are not too many word processors to choose from, and having fun at work is not usually a top priority.
Article URL: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050623/laitinen_01.shtml

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