Quality and Usability

Quality-influencing Factors in Mobile Gaming (Justus Breyer)

In the wake of the smartphone revolution, mobile games have not only become a spare time activity for the majority of phone owners, they have also created a prospering new industry. To thrive in an increasingly stiff competition, both game developers and service providers are seeking to improve their customers’ gaming experience and understand how it is affected by external influences in order to distinguish themselves from their competitors. However, playing experience is the result of a complex interplay of numerous factors: While the game itself sets the stage and determines the rules, look, and sound of the play, its implementation has to adapt to the player’s device properties such as its screen size and available input methods, mobile network degradations, and respond to sudden interruptions such as incoming phone calls or contextual events like the player’s arrival at the right bus stop gracefully. Although subjective effects of many influences have been studied for PC or console-based gaming in the past, this knowledge cannot be applied to mobile games straightforwardly as they differ from their stationary counterparts in various ways: Since smartphones and tablets are multi-purpose devices, they lack gaming-specific controls such as joysticks or game-pads and instead feature touch input which leads to the obstruction of manipulated parts of the screen and conveys no immediate haptic feedback. Consequently, this thesis investigates the subjective effects of variations of the four quality-influencing factors game, device, network, and context in mobile touch-based gaming individually using experimental studies with test participants. Conclusions are then drawn on how each of these factors influences a player’s gaming experience. As common interactive methods for assessing gaming quality are time-consuming and potentially unrealistic due to interruptions incurred by the subjective self-assessments, two additional studies are presented, which explore novel test methodologies. The first investigates the applicability of a standard non-interactive video assessment method for evaluating aspects of gaming quality, whereas the second examines using a physiological measure to obtain quality correlates as a substitute for having to interrupt and ask the player. Finally, this thesis concludes with a discussion of how the found effects of game implementation, device size and network bandwidth affect future subjective gaming studies and considers further directions for research.


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