The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Reasearch

Introduction

在簧上工作室进行游戏用户研究时,无论是可用性测试还是 expert reviews, 欧博游戏经常说这项研究“基于认知科学原则”, but what exactly does that mean?

Client reports are rarely the right time or place to explain 认知科学原则是游戏用户研究的基础, or how video games and the brain are related. 这可能是有问题的,特别是在专家评审的情况下,因为它可以不幸的是,这会导致错误的印象,认为这项工作只是研究人员的意见, 或者是研究人员在游戏中做了什么和不喜欢什么.

Therefore, this article has two goals:

  1. 总结一些被应用的认知科学原则

  2. 请展示这些原则在游戏设计中的应用实例

Cognitive Functions

认知科学是一个跨学科的领域,它关注于理解大脑的各种系统, the cognitive functions involved, and the processes that govern their operation. 在这篇文章中,欧博游戏将重点介绍其中的一些认知功能.

This is not an exhaustive list, 重要的是要理解大脑并不是在不同的区域工作. 这些功能通常是重叠的,游戏中的问题可能源于多种认知功能. 下面所作的简单解释只是为了教授基本思想.

Attention

Attentional Spotlight

While a player can see the entire screen, 一个常见的误区是,他们可以同时关注整个屏幕. 然而,这通常是不正确的,因为注意力更像一个聚光灯,可以被引导.

When it comes to game design, 这意味着,1)假设玩家会注意到屏幕边缘的某些东西,只是因为它是视觉上呈现的,这是不安全的, and 2) work needs to be done to guide the player’s attention to the part of the screen you want them to focus on. 未能做到这一点是玩家错过重要屏幕事件的主要原因之一.

Endogenous vs. Exogenous

Guiding of attention can happen either voluntarily or automatically.

主动转移注意力被称为内源性控制,在这类游戏中很常见 Hidden Folks (think: Where’s Waldo?), where the player is actively searching for a target item.

Automatic/reflexive attention is called exogenous control, and is the reason why notification pips, popups dialogs, and flashing animations draw the player’s attention.

在设计游戏时,要考虑你的目标是获得哪种类型的关注. For example, 地图和键之间的一致图标有助于最大化内生控制, 然而,当玩家处于战斗状态时,你可能想要限制弹出通知,以避免他们的注意力被自动/条件反射地从行动中转移开.

Useful Field of View (UFOV)

When looking at any part of the screen, 在这一点周围有一个有限的区域,可以有效地检索信息. This is called the Useful Field of View (UFOV). The size of the UFOV does not span the entire screen, 因此,将重要信息放在屏幕的两边可能会产生问题, especially if the player is using a widescreen display.

Additionally, 不明飞行物的大小很大程度上取决于年龄(它会随着年龄的增长而变小), 所以在考虑UI元素在屏幕上的位置时,考虑目标用户群体是很重要的.

在游戏设计中,当显示屏幕外标记时,这种情况经常出现. For example, in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, 如果玩家在看屏幕左侧的屏幕外标记, 他们很难在不移动眼睛的情况下同时看到右边的一侧:

刺客信条瓦尔哈拉:游戏用户研究背后的认知科学
Assassins’ Creed Valhalla

Iron Space 通过将敌人标记移动到更中央的雷达中来解决这个问题:

Iron Space The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Iron Space

The same idea applies to larger UI elements. 许多第一人称和第三人称射击游戏都将命值条和弹药数设置在屏幕的边缘和角落. The Division 2 把这些信息放在更靠近屏幕中心的位置,这样快速的眼球运动就能更容易地获取这些信息:

The Division 2 The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
The Division 2

Inattentional Blindness

疏忽性失明指的是由于忙于另一项任务而无法看清屏幕上看得见的东西. The classic example of this effect comes from the paper 欧博游戏身边的大猩猩:动态事件的持续无意识盲视(1999).

This effect comes up time and time again in games. Imagine fighting a raid boss in World of Warcraft 看到你的队友因为站在某个伤害区域而死亡. Sound familiar? 这是行动中的无意失明,通常不是玩家的错, 但游戏的结果却将玩家的注意力引向了错误的东西.

This also comes up frequently with in-game tutorials. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, tutorials can pop up in the middle of combat. 因为专注于战斗而未能看到这些教程框可能会对玩家理解游戏机制产生长期影响:

《刺客信条瓦尔哈拉2》:游戏用户研究背后的认知科学
Assassins’ Creed Valhalla

Perception

Gestalt Principles

格式塔心理学家概述了一些知觉组织和分组的原则. 它们有助于解释为什么某些元素似乎属于同一组,而其他元素则不属于同一组. 这在UI和运动设计中特别有用,因为它允许你感知地将项目组合在一起,而不需要在它们周围画一个框.

A few examples:

  • Law of proximity

    • 挨得很近的项目被认为在同一组中

  • Law of similarity

    • 项目类似的(颜色,形状等.) are perceived to be in the same group

  • Law of common fate

    • 沿着类似路径一起移动的项目被视为分组在一起

  • Law of past experience

    • If items have frequently been seen together in the past, they are more likely to be seen as grouped moving forward

Breaking these principles can lead to confusion for players. For example, in the Asphalt 9: Legends example below it’s unclear what the +12 指的是因为它不靠近任何其他元素:

游戏用户研究背后的认知科学
Asphalt 9: Legends

Memory

Procedural Memory

Not all memories are encoded actively with conscious awareness. 程序性记忆是内隐的,以技能为基础的,通过重复来学习. One real-life example of this is learning how to tie shoelaces; with enough practice and repetition, it becomes automatic and you can do it without thinking.

在游戏设计环境中,程序记忆产生的一个地方是控制输入. Over time, players develop a memory for certain controls, and is one of the main reasons that games offer settings for joystick and mouse sensitivity; they allow players to tweak input settings to match what they have stored procedurally. Similarly, 有些玩家在玩倒y控制时已经形成了强大的程序记忆能力, 如果没有相反的选择,游戏对他们来说几乎是不可玩的.

另一个常见的问题是使用非标准的键绑定和/或缺少键重映射选项. Non-standard bindings, like in the case of Undertale,让玩家在执行常见操作时很容易按错按钮:

Undertale The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Undertale

Short-Term Memory

The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two (1956) is one of the most famous papers in Cognitive Science, 他还指出短期记忆的容量有限,一次只能有效地记住7件事. 然而,这一数值一直存在争议,最近的研究表明,上限接近4项.

这种内存容量限制在电子游戏教程中经常被打破. In New World例如,教程文本用于解释游戏中的关键模式. However, 要呈现的信息量太大,如果不重新读取,就无法将其包含在内存中. As a result, 这些信息变得更加难以学习,也不太可能被玩家记住:

New world The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
New World

Serial Position Effect

This is more commonly referred to as primacy and recency effects, 在列表的开头和结尾的项目更容易被记住, while items in the middle tend to have the worst recall.

These effects come up frequently in game design, 当玩家需要记住一份信息列表时,就必须考虑这些列表项目的排列和顺序. In the New World 上面的例子中,列表的长度使得序列位置效果更强,并且 中间的要点可能不如开头或结尾的要点被记住得好.

重要的是要注意,即使“列表”严格地看不像项目的项目列表,这些效果也适用. For example, 带有长时间导游的游戏解释了不同UI按钮的作用, like in the case of Stormbound, can also exhibit these effects. This is one of the reasons why teaching within the context of gameplay is often more effective; memory is contextualized and reinforced with actions. Without this, 教学更容易受到序列位置效应的影响,玩家可能会忘记某些功能的解释:

Stormbound all The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Stormbound

Spatial Processing

There are many different forms of spatial processing, 但一般来说,这是指人类对2D和3D物体产生理解的方式, as well as the relationships between them (e.g., distance, rotation). 空间处理被大量利用的一个地方是地图阅读和导航.

When navigating the world, 人类使用不同的参考框架编码空间信息, the most common being allocentric and egocentric:

  • 自我中心是指空间理解相对于环境中的其他物体, and is a form of landmark-based navigation. Example: “Starbucks is to the left of the Hospital”

  • Egocentric is where spatial information is encoded relative to you, and forms the basis of route-based navigation. 例子:“要到星巴克,向前走两个街区,然后右转,走一个街区。”

In games, 当玩家使用自己喜欢的导航策略时,地图的可读性和易学性就会大大提高. However, 有些游戏会强迫玩家使用特定的参考框架(游戏邦注:通常是通过地图图标), without the option of using the other.

The Division 2 这是否是一款包含两种导航类型以适应更广泛玩家群体的游戏, with the option to turn the different aids on or off:

游戏用户研究背后的认知科学
The Division 2
游戏用户研究背后的认知科学
The Division 2

基于路线/以自我为中心的导航不一定需要采用在地图上绘制的明确路线线的形式. 它也可以是一个简单的指南针,用来显示关键功能的方向/方向,就像 Call of Duty: Warzone:

游戏用户研究背后的认知科学
Call of Duty: Warzone

Executive Function

执行功能是一种认知系统,可以整合视觉或听觉等较低层次处理过程中的信息, 并形成决策和计划等常用功能的基础.

They can be thought of as being at the top of the cognitive hierarchy; as such, 不稳定的基础会导致多米诺骨牌效应,对这些执行功能的表现产生负面影响. For example, low contrast text in a UI is first and foremost a vision issue, 但这可能会在以后导致在更高层次的处理中忽略干扰的能力产生额外的问题.

When it comes to video games and the brain, how well executive functions work can depend on many factors. Age is one example, 因为执行过程直到青春期后期才完全发展, and begin to decline during older adulthood. As such, effective game design requires an understanding of the game’s target demographic. 大量的认知负荷也会对执行功能产生不利影响, 这就引出了一个问题,即如何设计游戏和ui来最小化负载并提高这些认知系统的性能.

Information Updating

The brain needs to manipulate, revise, and update information, and a lot of this relies on working memory. Working memory acts a bit like scrap paper; it’s a memory location that’s used to store information that you’re actively thinking about and working with. Unlike short-term memory, 欧博游戏非常强调对信息的主动操纵, thus placing it in the domain of executive function, rather than a simple memory store.

Working memory has a special importance in game design, 因为在许多情况下,玩家需要为了做出决策而积极地处理信息, for example.

这里的部分问题是工作记忆的容量有限,严重受认知负荷的影响. UI布局很差,或者没有显示足够的信息 too much information can reduce the effectiveness of working memory. An effective UI design, then, 是否应该努力从玩家身上卸载尽可能多的工作,这样他们就不需要在大脑中存储太多的信息.

We see this issue crop up in collectible card games like Hearthstone. When players build custom card decks, 他们需要考虑的一件事是卡片之间的互动, 其中一部分是由卡提供的地位效应决定的(e.g., Silence and Battlecry in the example below). Given the large number of cards available, 在创造桥牌时,玩家很难记住所有这些潜在的纸牌互动. This is hindered by the low contrast of the status name text, the lack of status icons to aid quick recognition, 不依靠文本搜索就无法过滤这些状态(新玩家可能不知道或不记得该搜索什么):

Hearthstone The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Hearthstone

Task Shifting

When working with multiple tasks or multiple sets of information, 大脑需要一种方法来在它们之间灵活切换. This process could involve 2 completely different tasks, or more likely, 2 distinct but overlapping tasks, in which case working memory involvement is required. In the latter case, 尤其重要的是要考虑在两个任务之间有多少相关信息被转移,以减少需要执行的任务转移的频率.

任务转换在游戏中经常出现,特别是在包含许多复杂系统的mmorpg中. 例如,大多数mmorpg都要求玩家同时阅读任务和地图. 游戏中通常会有一个任务列表,其中包含玩家需要理解的当前活动任务, 还有一个功能不同但重叠的系统,帮助玩家导航到任务位置.

In Guild Wars 2, 这两项任务通过使用一致的颜色和图像联系在一起,以减少认知负荷. 这两个任务使用相同的颜色和图标,并在地图上显示任务名称. 在这两个任务之间保留足够的背景,这样玩家就不需要不断地在它们之间切换或感到不知所措. 这是处理任务转换的最简单方法的一个好例子, while still remaining effective:

gw005 The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Guild Wars 2

gw006 The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Guild Wars 2

Inhibitory Control

大脑需要一种主动忽略无关或分散注意力的信息的方法, and this is the role of inhibitory control. 虽然有时候你可能想要明确地将玩家的注意力吸引到一些重要的内容上.g., using popups, notification pips), 也有很多时候,你想要展示的信息不会让人分心.

抑制控制允许玩家忽略那些潜在的干扰因素. However, the problem is that inhibitory control, 以及玩家控制自己注意力的能力, exists on a spectrum; some players are better at it than others. 因此,游戏很容易将玩家的注意力从重要内容上转移开. What can be done to improve usability for those players?

A few ways to handle this are to make use of reduced contrast, or increased transparency, to limit how distracting unattended UI elements might be. 但这通常是一种很难达到的平衡,因为制作太过微妙的东西可能会导致无意失明.

解决这个问题的另一种方法是使用基于状态的UI元素可见性. As an example, 在PVP排名比赛中收到私人信息可能会让一些玩家分心. Guild Wars 2 通过提供一个选项来隐藏玩家在战斗中的聊天面板来解决这个问题:

Guild Wars 3

抑制控制使用的是注意力资源,而注意力资源的能力有限. If a screen contains too many elements that draw attention, it doesn’t matter how good the player’s inhibitory control is, 这些资源最终将被耗尽,它们将更容易受到分心的影响.

This is often seen in casino games, like Slotomania, which contain 许多视觉动画、音效和其他吸引眼球的元素. 因此,玩家控制自己注意力的能力会随着时间的推移而减弱:

Slotomania The Cognitive Science Behind Games User Research
Slotmania

作为一个有趣的边注,基于地理位置的增强现实游戏(游戏邦注:即基于地理位置的增强现实游戏)越来越受欢迎.g., Pokemon GO, Orna)在考虑抑制控制时呈现出一个有趣的游戏设计挑战. 研究表明,当同时进行像走路这样的体育活动时,抑制控制会急剧下降. As such, 重要的是要考虑游戏将在何种环境中进行,以及这将如何不经意地影响游戏的可用性.

Final Word

欧博游戏希望这堂简短的认知科学速成课能够帮助欧博游戏更好地理解游戏用户研究的基本原则. More importantly, 欧博游戏希望现在更容易理解为什么可用性测试和专家评论不仅仅是研究人员的意见, 而是根植于对不同大脑功能的学术研究.

如果你想了解更多关于认知科学和游戏用户研究之间的关系, we recommend reading The Gamer’s Brain; there are also many useful videos discussing how video games and the brain are related. For more UXR content like this look into our previous article on How to Conduct User Research Without Users and stay tuned to our News Page.

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