And then you hit play: Investigating players’ responses to wayfinding cues in 3D action-adventure games

Date created: 
Wayfinding cues
Player experience
User-centered design
Design-oriented research

This research is concerned with wayfinding, one of the most basic interactions of 3D action-adventure games. Even though players are required to move from point A to point B to progress in games, there is little research on the difficulties, needs, and preferences of players regarding wayfinding in 3D game worlds. It is well known that to alleviate wayfinding issues, designers add wayfinding cues to the game world. However, little is known about how those cues affect players’ in-game behavior and, more importantly, the player experience. This research addresses those issues by investigating players’ responses to a variety of wayfinding cues. To this end, I developed two research tools resembling commercial 3D action-adventure games. Both games (i.e., The Lost Island and A Warrior’s Story) presented several wayfinding cues and tasks, purposefully designed to make players move from one space to the next. I investigate the player experience through mixed method and user-centered approaches, collecting and analysing quantitative and qualitative data. In the first study, all participants played the same version of The Lost Island, and I emphasized the differences between the experiences of more and less skilled players. For the second study, I categorized wayfinding cues into three groups that worked as my independent variables. Participants played one of the three versions of the game (i.e., experimental conditions) and reported on their experiences. Through concrete examples, this work demonstrated how wayfinding cues had an impact on players’ wayfinding behavior and attitude towards the games. Design implications are also discussed. I hope this work will assist wayfinding researchers in their future investigations, and assist wayfinding system designers in creating and ameliorating their systems for a more profound user experience.

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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Lyn Bartram
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.