quinta-feira, janeiro 17, 2008

do focus group para o laboratório

Um artigo que já li há algum tempo mas que voltou ao meu pensamento após um seminário que dei ontem onde apresentei os meus trabalhos de investigação dos últimos anos, relacionados com a medição dos aspectos emocionais no cinema e videojogos. É um artigo da Wired sobre o Halo 3, Halo 3: How Microsoft Labs Invented a New Science of Play, com entrevista a Randy Pagulayan (na imagem) um dos directores do laboratório de usabilidade do Microsoft Game Studio. Sobre este assunto podem dar uma vista de olhos ainda em A survey method for assessing perceptions of a game: The consumer playtest in game design (2005) e THAT'S ENTERTAINMNT Halo 3: the theory and practice of a research-design partnership (2008) (acesso restrito).

Limitando este texto apenas a algumas frase do artigo da Wired, aqui fica:
Pagulayan runs a testing lab for Bungie that looks more like a psychological research institute than a game studio. The room we're monitoring is wired with video cameras that Pagulayan can swivel around to record the player's expressions or see which buttons they're pressing on the controller.

Pagulayan and his team have now analyzed more than 3,000 hours of Halo 3 played by some 600 everyday gamers, tracking everything from favored weapons to how and where — down to the square foot — players most frequently get killed.

"I've never seen anything like it," says Ian Bogost, a professor of digital media at Georgia Tech, who toured the testing lab in the fall. "The system they've got is insane."

Every other week, beginning in the fall of 2006 — when the first builds of Halo 3 were available for testing — Pagulayan and his team have recruited about 20 people to come into the lab and play the game. Some tests include a pop-up box that interrupts the player every few minutes, asking them to rate how engaged, interested, or frustrated they are. Pagulayan also has gamers talk out loud about what they're experiencing, providing a stream-of-consciousness record of their thought process as they play. Over time, he's gathered voluminous stats on player locations, weapons, and vehicles.

For example, he produces snapshots of where players are located in the game at various points in time — five minutes in, one hour in, eight hours in — to show how they are advancing. If they're going too fast, the game might be too easy; too slow, and it might be too hard. He can also generate a map showing where people are dying, to identify any topographical features that might be making a battle onerous. And he can produce charts that detail how players died, which might indicate that a particular alien or gun is proving unexpectedly lethal or wankishly impotent.
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