Big budget games with ground-breaking gameplay can so often be let down by difficult user interfaces, cryptic menu systems and poor usability. User experience design and information architecture have become fundamental to the process of developing great websites and mobile experiences; could the same tried, tested and trusted techniques work for AAA games? In the world of mobile gaming it's frequently the smaller independents’ who are the real innovators. Often coming from a web background, many independent mobile game developers are producing beautifully considered interfaces for a whole new class of intelligent contextual games, while the big publishers are still attempting to port console games to inappropriate devices. Have the web backgrounds of these independents’ given them an innate understanding of designing for user context or is it just never having been restricted by the sometimes stringent requirements for Gold Master and the limitations of the 10ft interface? This is of course a two-way street. Some of the processes involved in game design for consoles have a far greater lineage than that of design for mobile and web, and as such there are techniques that deal directly with adherence to a set of constantly evolving industry standards that could certainly be considered by the wider developing community.
Andy Beaumont is the Technical Director at London digital marketing agency Outside Line. Over the last 12 years he has worked on some of the most innovative and awarded online games including more than one SXSW award winner. More recently he has been working on the user experience for human recommendation trust networks.
Florian is the founder of Fangohr, LLC, a creative studio in Brooklyn that looks at design as the bridge between information and understanding, and technology as the conductor of new experiences.
Since its inception in 2004 the firm has helped clients like Good, Seed Magazine, MTV, Adobe, NBC, LIndblad Expeditions, Pitchfork, and countless other organisations communicate more freely and efficiently. Florian and his team have designed brands, websites, information graphics, games, typefaces, and books; edited movies; devised strategic work; built web and mobile applications as well as a miniature house.
Before starting Fangohr,LLC , Florian worked in media production in his hometown of Hamburg, Germany. In 1997 he moved to San Francisco, where he co-founded a design firm with his equally stubborn but brilliant partner John Weir that quickly faltered. Florian settled in New York in 2000. He named Fangohr, LLC after himself to remedy the fact that in Germany it's a ridiculous name, and, at the same time, celebrate that in America it could be that of a super-villain.
Jim has been fortunate enough to work on one of the most successful game franchises ever to be released for the PS3: LittleBigPlanet (1+2). His work prior to that involved graphic and interface design for, amongst others, SCEE and Lionhead.
Jim’s time spent designing some of the most creative game UIs in the last eight years gives him a particular insight into the games industry industry and its many foibles. Jim’s experience within the games industry offers us a visceral and polarised view of UX design for games. Jim lives and works in the leafy city of Guildford.
Jonty is a Lead Interaction Designer for London based digital consultancy Tobias & Tobias. He has been involved in digital interaction -in one form or another- for the last 12 years.
Margaret Robertson is development director for Hide&Seek, a game design studio which uses public spaces and digital platforms to make interesting games for interesting people. Her previous role as an independent consultant enabled her to work on a huge range of projects, from AAA console titles, through download and mobile/ handheld games, to indie and art-house projects. She's worked with brands, broadcasters, and film studios to develop their game strategies, and was part of the team that built the BAFTA-award winning game slate which recently earned Channel 4 the Develop Publishing Hero award. Previously editor of Edge magazine, and part of the team behind the GameCity festival, she is currently a contributing editor for Wired in the UK, a columnist for Gamasutra and speaks worldwide on game design theory.
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