Kinds of Feedback

In my last post, I stressed the importance of feedback in digital games, as well as the variety of feedback that exists.  In an educational game like Radix, there are three primary concerns: game feedback, educational feedback, and the audience.

HUDs displaying game feedback for players in World of Warcraft

HUDs displaying game feedback for players in World of Warcraft1

Game feedback is information provided to a student so he can progress through the game.  This feedback can be quest specific, such as when a player succeeds or fails at a task.  This feedback can be more general, such as the location or wealth of the player.  The designers of Radix are deciding the best methods to provide this information to users, including heads-up displays (HUDs), pop-ups, and in-game menus.

The educational progress of a student is provided through educational feedback.  This feedback could be explicit, such as displaying comparisons between in-game quests and real-world problems, or implicit, such as progress bars or “character trees” that symbolize a player’s educational progress.  The presentation of this feedback has the opportunity to stir feelings of pride, reflection, and curiosity among players.

Finally, the most important consideration is the audience receiving the feedback.

Diagrams of the brain from Brain Age provide feedback for young players and their parents2

First, one considers the players in Radix and how they are receiving game and educational feedback.  Second, educators teaching with Radix also need feedback on the progress of a player in-game and in their curriculum.  Third, parents may appreciate simple screens or read-outs that summarize their children’s progress.  Fourth, a number of researchers here at The Education Arcade study the effects of games in education, and are actively invested in how players are succeeding or failing in Radix.

The ability to provide each kind of feedback to different audiences requires considering how the data is summarized, displayed, and navigated.  What is important to some audiences may be negligible to others.  Players care deeply about immediate feedback on their actions.  Teachers care about a quick summary of their students’ educational progress.  Researchers appreciate the ability to look at broad trends as well as unique anomalies.  User interface designers have a lot of fascinating decisions to make to turn Radix into an informative experience for all audiences.

Image references:

  1. http://todowow.com/destacados/interfaces/ui-interfaz-raid-nui/
  2. http://www.joystiq.com/2006/04/19/ds-lite-and-brain-age-not-playing-well-together/
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