Master’s Thesis

Title: The Impact of Interface and Gameworld Design on Player Experience – The case of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Work on the thesis was completed between September 2015 and June 2017. The intent for the thesis was to study the interfaces found in digital games through a Human-computer Interaction point of view, where I felt that like all other types of software, digital games, also have a clear need to provide a good usability and user experience for the end user. However, unlike traditional software, digital games have very different requirements, and therefore I wanted to study exactly how these requirements were different, and what kinds of design choices have to be made in order to provide a well functioning, enjoyable interface to facilitate a good player experience.

The main hypothesis behind the work was that any gameplay that a player is subjected to provides some kind of experience – either positive or negative, and this experience may be further impacted by the design and implementation of the game’s interfaces. Unlike other types of software, games actually have multiple types of interfaces. There is the traditional interfaces, comparable to those found in other types of software. Then there is the physical interface through which the user interacts with the game, which is uniquely designed to interact with digital games. 

Additional to these however, there is also the gameworld interface, which is how the gameworld itself is intractable to the player, to allow for different types of gameplay to occur. This in itself is something completely unique to digital games, that is not found in other types of software. To actually study the interfaces of digital games, I chose to use a newly released game as a case, which I then designed an evaluation to study. This evaluation was built to gather qualitative data on how players of this specific game experience the different interfaces. To that end I invited five participants to play specific sections of the game, followed by interviews. The gameplay sessions were captured on both facial camera, in-game capture, and audio capture. 

Each participant played through three one hour sessions, coupled with interviews, which was then analysed using Critical Incident Technique, and Thematic Analysis. Additional to the study I also performed two separate heuristic evaluations, wherein the first was focused on the early game, introduction, and tutorial sections of the game, and the other has a more overhead focus on the entire game. 
Both my Thesis presentation, as well as the full thesis can be found on the right, while a shorter report of the work will be uploaded soon.