Devcom Highlights: The Psychology of Play | Pocket

Understanding the Power of Play: Insights from Devcom 2023

Developers and game makers have long grappled with understanding the concept of “play”. In the mobile gaming world, deciphering the mindset and psychology of players can mean the difference between a successful title and a failure. At Devcom 2023, Anna Brandberg, lead UX designer at The Outsiders, shared her insights on user-centric design and how it can elevate a game from good to great.

The Importance of Play in Game Design

Brandberg emphasizes that the power of play is fundamental to game design and its success. This is an idea that few would dispute. She draws examples from iconic gaming franchises like The Sims, highlighting its evolution from an architectural dollhouse simulator to a social life-story simulator that has captured the love of players worldwide.

Brandberg herself has experience working with one of mobile gaming’s most renowned companies, King, on Candy Crush Saga. While King has the advantage of resources like their own UX lab, Brandberg believes that other companies can still follow their example.

Putting Players First: The Role of UX Design

In her talk, Brandberg emphasizes that UX (user experience) is not about the designer’s personal preferences. She encourages designers to prioritize the player experience and how players engage with the game above all else. This means putting aside personal biases and embracing the idea that the game is not for the designer, but for the players themselves.

However, Brandberg cautions that when gathering player feedback, it’s important to take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes players may say they want one thing, but their true desires lie elsewhere. It’s crucial to understand that player dislikes may stem from frustration with unclear tutorials and onboarding processes. Designers must set aside their egos and remember that games have the power to impact people’s lives, so the responsibility of designing them should not be taken lightly.

Applying User-Centric Design to Mobile Games

So, what can we learn from Brandberg’s insights and apply to mobile game design? Atomhawk’s talk on UI design at Develop: Brighton provides a glimpse into the importance of seemingly secondary design choices in enhancing the user experience. These choices can have a significant impact on key performance indicators such as retention, user acquisition, and monetization.

In summary, while the business side of gaming is important, it should never overshadow the fact that games are ultimately made for players. Players are complex and unpredictable, so truly understanding their mindset and prioritizing their needs can elevate the success of a game in every aspect that matters.

Brandberg reminds us that behind every number is a person. Categorizing players can only take us so far, as they will always surprise us with their unique interactions with games and other systems. Therefore, knowing when to listen and read between the lines is just as crucial as the technical aspects of game development.

Brandberg’s talk at Devcom 2023 is just the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable event. For more information and to explore the fascinating talks taking place, visit the official Devcom website.