Domain-specific playability problems in social network games
by Janne Paavilainen; Kati Alha; Hannu Korhonen
International Journal of Arts and Technology (IJART), Vol. 8, No. 4, 2015

Abstract: Social network games on Facebook have become a popular pastime for millions of players. These social games are integrated into the social network service and feature a free-to-play revenue model. Design characteristics of social games set new challenges for game design and playability evaluations. This article presents two studies for evaluating playability in social games. Study 1 features 18 novice inspectors who evaluated a social game with playability heuristics. The objective of the study was to explore possible domain-specific playability problems and examine how the established heuristics are suited for evaluating social games. The results of Study 1 show that social games' design characteristics can cause specific playability problems and the established playability heuristics are suitable for evaluating social games. Study 2 features 58 novice inspectors who evaluated 12 social games with playability heuristics. The objective of the study was to confirm the existence of domain-specific problems. As a result, six domain-specific playability problems were found: boring gameplay, click fatigue, interruptive pop-ups, friend requirements, spammy messages and aggressive monetisation. This article discusses their meaning for the gaming experience and how they could be fixed.

Online publication date: Sun, 13-Dec-2015

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