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Our upcoming webinar schedule follows. If you have ideas for future topics, please email us suggestions. Meanwhile, check out some of our recorded webinars on YouTube.

1. The ROI of User Experience (UX) (Thursday, June 22)

Companies that invest in UX produce products faster: developers spend less time on significant alterations and fixes. In addition, happy users return to use the product, and often tell their friends. Alternatively, frustrated users will complain on social media and create negative press.

A Forbes article pointed out: “According to IBM, code defects are 30 times more expensive to correct than using the right information in the first place. It is extremely unlikely that these coding defects will occur if you choose the UX design.”

In this webinar we will discuss:Dashboard Research

  • Lowered development costs: developers spend an average of 50% of their time reworking projects
  • Increased sales: happier customers, better marketing, and buy-in
  • Every $1 in UX returns $100: holy smokes!
  • Build customer loyalty: increase sales by providing great consumer experience

User experience (UX) quality can be the deciding factor to the success of your design. If a user gives up mid-transaction, they will leave frustrated and not recommend your product. However, a successful, easy transaction can result in people recommending your product to friends. Over time the smallest of problems can add up to losses of millions a year in revenue.

Join us June 22 @ 1pm CDT to learn how to design a successful product that will boost your bottom line.

Thursday, June 22, 1:00-2:00pm CDT
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2. Designing the Perfect Dashboard: Simple, Usable, Slick and Actionable (Monday, May 8th)

Slick dashboards can give an appealing look and feel, helping users to re-engage with software or a website. However, dashboards can be difficult to design since different types of users expect different information that is relevant to their needs.

A well-designed dashboard can provide powerful information by summarizing the most relevant data, presented in a usable way. Usability research can help prioritize high-level tasks and goals for users and can help to design a dashboard that creates a clear call to action where appropriate.

Topics Covered:Dashboard Research

  • Designing usability into dashboards
  • Differences between actionable dashboards and customized homepages
  • Creating simplicity and clear calls to action
  • Compromising between simplicity for novice users and complexity for power users
  • Choosing data visualizations and appropriate color psychology that makes sense
  • Distinguishing good user interfaces (UI) from good usability (functionality)
  • Usability research methods to understand users’ workflows and tasks
  • Prioritizing different usage scenarios to display the most relevant information
  • Contextualizing use to see actual usage scenarios

Join us May 8th @ 1pm CDT to discuss design and usability guidelines that can improve the functionality and utility of your dashboard.

Monday, May 8, 1:00-2:00pm CDT
Register Now

1. Choosing Usability Research: Which Is Best for My Product (Monday, October 17th)

The importance of usability has been documented: according to Rhodes, “Sun Microsystems has shown how spending about $20,000 could yield a savings of $152 million dollars. Each and every dollar invested could return $7,500 in savings.”

Design Research
Topics Covered:

  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative usability research
  • When to use expert reviews
  • Conducting usability tests in-house and when to bring in independent experts
  • How many users to test
  • Sizing up your competition via competitive benchmarking
  • Improving efficiency vs. improving the quality of interaction

Join us October 17th @ 12pm CDT to discuss how usability research can improve your bottom line, with specific guidelines on choosing tests that make the most impact on the quality and performance of your product.

Monday, October 17, 12:00-1:00pm CDT
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1. Live Landing Page Critiques (Thursday, February 2)

Would you like live FREE feedback on your landing page? Join landing page optimization expert Michel Sharritt for this live, rapid-fire critique webinar. Michel and her team of usability experts wrote the playbook on usability testing and fine tuning your landing pages for maximum conversions.
UX-Best-Practices-Samsung-Product-Page
Live Critiques Will Test:

  • Navigation Structure / Website Organization
  • Color Psychology, Graphics, Font Size, Color, Headings
  • Website Copy: Wordiness / Page Length / Communicative Efficacy
  • Social Media Integration and SEO
  • Page Layout and Structure

We will host the webinar on Thursday, February 2 @ 12pm CST. If you’re not quite ready to be critiqued, you still can join us to watch the live critiques and learn a few quick changes you can make to improve the usability of your own website.

Thursday, February 2 @ 12pm CST
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2. Designing Interactive Software & Products (Wednesday, May 25th)

What are users saying about your software or product? Are your users happy and trouble-free, or are they frustrated and calling for customer support? A recent study by Karat & Lund described savings on customer service costs, following a user-friendly redesign of a product: “an improved experience by Schneider Automation resulted in $2 million saved in call center support costs over the first 10 months after the change.”

iPad-White-HeatMap2
Topics Covered:

  • Examining user interaction, collaboration, and engagement with human-computer interfaces
  • Quantitative vs. Qualitative usability research
  • Benefits of usability research, such as increased sales, better customer loyalty, higher user productivity and lower maintenance costs
  • Basics of Interaction Design, and how it affects everyday products you use
  • Designing products for collaborative use and happy users
  • Different types of testing and research for particular products and design situations
  • How your product’s usability directly impacts your brand image, and your bottom line

Join us on May 25th @ 2pm CDT to learn how usability research can help your final product align with business objectives: yielding increased revenue and market share, as well as happier users and better brand perception.

Wednesday, May 25, 2:00-3:00pm CDT
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1. Video Game Market Research: Concept Testing & Gamer Feedback (Tuesday, September 6th)

Digital video games are becoming more complex, and more expensive to design and publish. The ability to come up with a game concept that is a hit with gamers is ever more critical. Early stage market research can determine whether a game has legs, worthy of the large investment required to design and publish the game title.

Image by MediaWatch UKTesting game concepts with sample users prior to design can inform game design, helping to gauge the popularity and playability of games. Analyzing the gamer experience gives insight into the playability, fun, and level of engagement of game concepts.

In this live webinar, Situated Research will walk you through strategies employed during concept testing of video games, and how this differs from traditional market research. You will walk away knowing:

  • How your game can come up short using traditional market research
  • Methodologies and tests you can run on game concepts to gain more valuable feedback
  • How you can gain insight with a mixed-method approach, to paint a detailed picture of user experience and inform future games you will develop

Whether you are involved in Marketing, UX, or Production, this live webinar is for anyone involved in game development that wants to gain insight into whether game players will take to a new game concept, and keep coming back for more.

Tuesday, September 6, 12:00-1:00pm CDT
Register Now

2. Mobile Shopping: Key Features Users Want (Tuesday, December 1st)

With each passing holiday season, online retail is becoming more and more prevalent. According to Goldman Sachs, 81% of U.S. cell users will have smartphones, with more people using mobile phones than PCs to get online. As more users visit from mobile devices, it becomes especially important to ensure the customer shopping experience is designed to be simple and efficient on phones and tablets. In this webinar, we will discuss how people search differently for products on mobile devices, and key solutions to ensure you deliver the best mobile customer experience to maximize sales.

Mobile Shopping
Topics Covered:

  • How user behavior changes during mobile shopping
  • Comparison of several popular e-commerce websites
  • Reasons users browse for products online, including price shopping at physical retail stores
  • Problems with non-mobile websites: pinching / zooming, reading small text, ad space and content length
  • Most important features of mobile e-commerce websites
  • Creating the mobile shopping experience: swiping, tapping and other mobile interaction
  • Simplifying mobile checkout processes and avoiding frustration

With $23.8 billion of mobile commerce sales expected in 2015 (Coda Research), it is more important than ever that you optimize your customer experience on mobile devices. Join us December 1st @ 2pm CST to learn what key features can help you maximize sales on mobile devices and provide your mobile customers a satisfying shopping experience.

Tuesday, December 1, 2:00-3:00pm CST
Register Now

Tip: You can watch all of our free webinar recordings on YouTube.

Live Landing Page Critiques with Usability Expert Michel Sharritt (Feb. 2, 2017 session)

live-landing-page-critiquesWatch this webinar to see previously recorded live feedback on sample landing pages. Various metrics will be examined, such as navigation structure, website organization, color psychology, graphics, social media integration and communication efficacy. Join landing page optimization expert Michel Sharritt for practical advice to help you fine tune your landing pages for maximum conversions. Michel Sharritt and her team of usability experts wrote the playbook on usability testing, and a few quick changes conveyed through the live critiques can help you improve the usability of your own website.

Video Game Market Research: Concept Testing & Gamer Feedback

video-game-market-researchDigital video games are becoming more complex, and more expensive to design and publish. The ability to come up with a game concept that is a hit with gamers is ever more critical. Early stage market research can determine whether a game has legs, worthy of the large investment required to design and publish the game title. Testing game concepts with users informs design, helping to gauge the popularity and playability of a game. Analyzing the gamer experience gives insight into the playability, fun, and level of engagement of game concepts. In this webinar, Situated Research will walk you through strategies employed during concept testing of video games, and how this differs from traditional market research.

Live Landing Page Critiques with Usability Expert Michel Sharritt (Mar. 9, 2016 session)

live-landing-page-critiquesWatch this webinar to see previously recorded live feedback on sample landing pages. Various metrics will be examined, such as navigation structure, website organization, color psychology, graphics, social media integration and communication efficacy. Join landing page optimization expert Michel Sharritt for practical advice to help you fine tune your landing pages for maximum conversions. Michel Sharritt and her team of usability experts wrote the playbook on usability testing, and a few quick changes conveyed through the live critiques can help you improve the usability of your own website.

Video Game Market Research: Concept Testing & Gamer Feedback

video-game-market-researchDigital video games are becoming more complex, and more expensive to design and publish. The ability to come up with a game concept that is a hit with gamers is ever more critical. Early stage market research can determine whether a game has legs, worthy of the large investment required to design and publish the game title. Testing game concepts with users informs design, helping to gauge the popularity and playability of a game. Analyzing the gamer experience gives insight into the playability, fun, and level of engagement of game concepts. In this webinar, Situated Research will walk you through strategies employed during concept testing of video games, and how this differs from traditional market research.

Using Storytelling and Persona Research to Guide Design

Using-Storytelling-to-Guide-DesignDo you know who your actual users are? What do they think of your product, and why do they use it? Through usability research, you can learn to tell the user’s story and better design a product that fits their specific needs. Through careful observation of users, you can construct stories and sample scenarios of use that can inform the design process through the creation of use cases, personas, and user flows. Don’t just make up your users’ story. Figure out what the user needs, what kind of experience your solution creates, and determine whether the solution actually works.

Live Landing Page Critiques with Usability Expert Michel Sharritt (Sept. 2015 session)

live-landing-page-critiquesWatch this webinar to see previously recorded live feedback on sample landing pages. Various metrics will be examined, such as navigation structure, website organization, color psychology, graphics, social media integration and communication efficacy. Join landing page optimization expert Michel Sharritt for practical advice to help you fine tune your landing pages for maximum conversions. Michel Sharritt and her team of usability experts wrote the playbook on usability testing, and a few quick changes conveyed through the live critiques can help you improve the usability of your own website.

Mobile Website & Application Usability Guidelines

mobile-web-apps-usability-guidelinesResearch shows that mobile websites and apps are becoming a large source of interaction with you and your business, but often contain major usability problems. A well designed mobile application can provide pertinent information to mobile users, through new forms of interaction (such as tapping, swiping, gestures, and notifications). Usability research can help prioritize high-level tasks and goals for mobile users, helping to design a functional mobile application or website that best suits their needs.

Designing the Perfect Dashboard: Simple, Usable, Slick and Actionable

webinar24Slick dashboards can give an appealing look and feel, helping users to reengage with software or a website. However, dashboards can be difficult to design since different types of users expect different information that is relevant for their needs. A well-designed dashboard can create powerful interaction by presenting summarized data in a usable way. Usability research can help prioritize high-level tasks and goals for users, helping to design a dashboard with clear calls to action where appropriate.

Gamer Psychology – Designing Hit Video Games

The rate of success when developing video games is relatively low to other industries. Designing a hit video game requires a brilliant concept, hard work, and a bit of luck.

What can game companies do to raise their success rate in building profitable, hit games? User experience research may be the key to raising the success rate, but misconceptions of what it entails and confusion with QA testing often leave it on the backburner.

Designing Software for Meaningful User Experiences

Have you designed a product that often was used in an unintended way? Is there a better endorsement for software than “It’s easy to use”? If you want to make your products better for your customers, this webinar can help you to take the first step.

Watch to learn how user-experience research can help you design meaningful, intended software interactions that yield happy and productive users.

Choosing Usability Research: Which Is Best For My Product?

The importance of usability has been documented: according to Rhodes, “Sun Microsystems has shown how spending about $20,000 could yield a savings of $152 million dollars. Each and every dollar invested could return $7,500 in savings.”

Watch this webinar to discuss how usability research can improve your bottom line, with specific guidelines on choosing tests that make the most impact on the quality and performance of your product.

Designing Interactive Software and Products

What are users saying about your software or product? A recent study by Karat & Lund described savings on customer service costs, following a user-friendly redesign of a product: “an improved experience by Schneider Automation resulted in $2 million saved in call center support costs over the first 10 months after the change.” Incorporating usability expertise ensures that the final product aligns with business objectives: with increased revenue and market share, as well as happier users and better brand perception.

Website Usability: Achieving Effective Communication with Your Customers

How powerful is the message you present to your customers?

When people visit your website, are they confused or overwhelmed with information? How can you re-design this information to communicate effectively and create a clear call to action? Watch this webinar to learn how to make the most of your website and create powerful results for your business.

Usability & the Human Mind: How Your Customers Think

This webinar will help you to better understand the people coming to your website, and what is holding them back from purchasing your product or service, with strategies for keeping users on your website longer. Learn more about why people buy, and the psychology of sales and eMarketing.

This webinar was inspired by our attendance at Usability Week in Chicago, sponsored by the Nielsen/Norman Group.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles & Book Chapters

Our self-funded research takes an open-ended look at what is accomplished while playing games and using software interfaces. The research initiated during Dr. Sharritt’s doctorate led him to discover features of commercial games that manifest in collaborative behavior and engaged learning experiences. These findings transfer to the design of hardware, software, web, and game interfaces to create meaningful user interaction (and satisfying user experiences).

  1. Sharritt, M. J. (2008). Forms of learning in collaborative video game play.(PDF) Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 3(2), pp. 97–138.

    Read Abstract

    Extensive literature has shown that games provide engaging, dynamic, and authentic learning contexts. An understanding of how learning takes place while gaming can inform the design of effective educational games and aid their integration into contemporary classrooms. This study used inductive methods to provide a detailed description of the use of video games for learning in a school setting. Results demonstrate that learning occurred across multiple levels and multiple granularities, and can be triggered by particular cues in the game or social environment. Characteristics of the most frequently occurring instances of learning are discussed. Results of this study suggest great potential for the use of games in education for learning, and can inform future game design.

  2. Sharritt, M. J. (2008). Students’ Use of Social and Cognitive Affordances in Video Game Play within Educational Contexts: Implications for Learning. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Hawaii at Manoa: Honolulu, HI. (1055 pages)

    Read Abstract

    Extensive literature has shown that games can provide an engaging, dynamic, and authentic learning context. Many of the studies on the use of games in education indicate that games can support teaching standards and outcomes; however, they do not describe actual uses of video games for learning. Through the analysis of affordances employed by student gamers, an understanding of how learning takes place can inform the design of effective educational games and aid their integration into contemporary classrooms. Informed by ethnomethodology, this study used methods of grounded theory provided a detailed description of the use of video games for learning in educational contexts.Results demonstrate that learning occurs across multiple levels: the mastery of the computer interface, followed by the mastery of the game interface and upon which students can achieve advanced strategy aimed at goal achievement. Learning also occurs across multiple granularities: occurring either in short episodes, sequences of episodes, or trends. Learning can be triggered by multiple cues, such as failure, game visualizations or specific representations, as well as by peers or teachers in the social environment.Students used affordances provided by the game interface and learning environment, specifically: the visual representations of games afford particular actions; the persistent display of historical context as well as present and future potentials motivates learning; specific cues can grab attention, helping to focus efforts on new or underutilized game tasks; consistent and well organized visualizations encourage learning; and information presented in a plurality of channels is most effective for learning.The use of social peers in collaborative learning had several effects on the learning process: peers disclosed information to achieve shared meaning of objects’ purposes, and negotiated to collaboratively choose game strategies. Peer teams served cooperative roles as information sources and competitively as a performance gauge.Implications for students, educators, and game designers are offered to better play, implement, and design games for learning. A brief comparison of findings with existing theory discusses similarities among collaborative learning and activity theory, and suggests opportunities for future work. Overall, findings indicate a great potential for the use of games in education for learning.

  3. Sharritt, M. J., & Suthers, D. D. (2009). Video game representations as cues for collaboration and learning. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 1(3), pp. 28–52. (Received ‘top-paper award’ at the Meaningful Play conference, Michigan State University, October 2008).

    Read Abstract

    Literature suggests that games can support learning in schools in several ways: by enabling creative problem solving, allowing dynamic resource allocation, by providing a motivating, immersive activity, and by supporting explorations of identity. However, research is needed to examine how exactly games are utilized for learning. A descriptive, inductive study was carried out to identify how high school students in a school setting make use of the video game interface and its representations. Results demonstrate that specific cues direct attention, helping to focus efforts on new or underutilized game tasks. In addition, consistent and well-organized visualizations encourage learning and collaboration among students by providing shared referential resources and scaffolding coordinated sequences of problem solving acts during gameplay. Conversely, when affordances are inconsistently represented, students’ focus can shift from problem solving at the goal level (game strategy, etc.) to problem solving why the game interface is frustrating their goals. In general, the design of game representations and behaviors can help guide or hinder student learning.

  4. Sharritt, M. A., & Sharritt, M. J. (2010). A mixed method approach to studying collaborative video game play.(PDF) Presented at the Games + Learning + Society Conference (GLS 6.0), June 9–11, 2010, Madison.

    Read Abstract

    Activity Theory supports the idea that human activity is hierarchically organized. Our research follows a qualitative case study that highlights the use of affordances, or potentials for action, during video game player interaction among peers and the game interface. Activity Theory’s meditational triangle will shed light on motivated activity itself, the tools available to complete the activity, and peer relationships (such as role specialization and rules of interaction) to evaluate game designs and their ability to fulfill serious purposes with meaningful outcomes. This presentation will focus on Activity Theory and how the meditational triangle can be used to evaluate peer relationships within game play.A blended approach incorporating features of Ethnomethodology and grounded theory will be used to construct an open-ended, bottom-up approach to studying collaborative game play. A true Ethnomethodological approach would reject the top-down, theory-driven approach required by Activity Theory, Activity Theory can highlight particular relationships during game player interactions to provide a frame for game player activity. Activity theory, when applied in conjunction with an emergent approach, can both broaden our concept of affordances and remind us to look for action potentials on the various levels of activity, and does not necessarily have to constrain findings by introducing preconceptions. While bound to the specific situation being studied and not seeking of patterns in observations, Ethnomethodology can be a very useful starting point for the analysis of game player activity in order to reveal underlying, and commonly overlooked, social assumptions.Activity theory can be incorporated following an initially open-ended, emergent Ethnomethodological approach to highlight relationships and game player motivations that might have been initially overlooked. While this process becomes partially theory-driven in the end, it also allows us to obtain some of the benefits of initially using an open-ended ethnomethodologically inspired approach. This approach can help construct a context-dependent, bottom-up, indexical and descriptive representation of game player activity, which is crucial to understanding interactions within Serious Games and their associated meaningful outcomes.

  5. Sharritt, M. A., & Sharritt, M. J. (2010). User-experience game research?(PDF) Presented at the Games + Learning + Society Conference (GLS 6.0), June 9–11, 2010, Madison.

    Read Abstract

    Situated Research offers in-depth video game analysis, accomplished by recording and analyzing player interaction within situated gaming environments. Techniques will be presented which uncover user practices and behaviors, aimed at uncovering a balance between aesthetics and functionality while maximizing interactive experiences. Research will be presented that outlines how to unpack gameplay experiences, so designers can design situations that yield intended, meaningful outcomes with lasting results.The cutting-edge research approach described draws from a multi-disciplinary background to construct a very detailed picture of actual use, which informs the design process. Existing literature supports the idea that games can communicate complex ideas through exploration and play-testing, using constant feedback and assessment, by observing players’ behavior through interaction with other related objects in an environment. The design of specific visualizations, rules, and behaviors will be discussed, with impacts on human interaction and game play. By studying relationships among game interfaces and player behavior, patterns can be found that help to maximize motivation and flow, a feeling where one loses track of time and their surroundings (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).In addition, research outlining the importance of role specialization and complimentary virtual identities in games like MMORPGs is presented, highlighting the importance of role-specialization, where group participation is required for success: such as guild formation, where characters of different ability work together towards mutual goals. Research methods addressing group activities and specialization (assuming roles) will be described, with effects on engagement: e.g., social ties to play games.A blended method drawing from ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967; Clayman & Maynard, 1995) and grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Charmaz, 2005) will describe how to go about finding patterns in gameplay, helping to design situations that yield intended, meaningful outcomes with lasting results. This open-ended approach allows observation of game players while they act in their natural environment, “in-situ”, obtaining information that is highly relevant to the players themselves. Applying these results to game design can yield more effective, fun and playable games.

  6. Sharritt, M. J. (2010). An Open-Ended, Emergent Approach for Studying Serious Games. In L. Annetta & S. Bronack (Eds.) Serious Educational Game Assessment (pp. 243–261). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

    Read Abstract

    A case study is presented with a very useful discussion of how to conduct qualitative, inductive, open-ended research in the context of Serious Games. An emphasis on conducting open-ended, inductive experiments is extremely useful for investigating new situations where a theory-driven approach (deductive hypothesis testing) may not be appropriate. A case study will be presented whose methodological influences borrow from ethnomethodology, grounded theory and activity theory to inductively construct a picture of what is occurring as video games are being played. While strict adherence to these fields of study is not followed, many features of the fields are described and explained along side of a case study that describes how learning occurs during collaborative gameplay. The hybrid method presented can assist researchers in discovering what is happening on a moment-by-moment basis as video games are played, and will guide researchers in finding patterns during game play to abstract patterns in gamer behavior. These inductively-generated hypotheses can be used to test highly relevant aspects such as a video game’s usability or ability to create an engaging learning experience. Emphasis will be placed on how particular methodological influences were insightful in the case study, and recommendations will be offered to future researchers on how to incorporate the most relevant principles into their work in order to inductively study video game play.

  7. Sharritt, M. J. (2010). Designing game affordances to promote learning and engagement.(PDF) Cognitive Technology Journal, 14(2)–15(1), pp. 43–57. (Special double issue on “Games for Good: Video Games as Cognitive Technologies”).

    Read Abstract

    Applied research will be presented from a qualitative study that highlights high school students’ learning and use of several game interfaces, describing how particular affordances and game interface designs can encourage learning. Inductive generalizations from several ‘commercial’ games for good, including Civilization IV, Making History: The Calm & the Storm, and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 describe patterns of learning among game players, showing how the design of in-game visualizations either led to success or failure to learn to use basic game controls. This analysis, inspired by ethnomethodology and grounded theory, sought patterns from gathered video data of student gameplay to highlight learning episodes and patterns of interface use. Patterns in affordance use (uptake of a perceived action potential) during collaborative gameplay reveal relationships among the video game interface and player behavior, giving focus to how an interface design can guide game player interaction. In line with Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of flow, a proper balance of difficulty (between feelings of boredom, and too much difficulty) encouraged player engagement and learning. As evidenced in transcripts of collaborative gameplay, feelings of frustration with a game interface often led students to abandon in-game tasks, as did boredom with a given task. However, frustrated goal achievement often led to the re-negotiation of in-game strategies: an indication of engagement. Additionally, games that presented information using multiple channels encouraged learning, as did the use of specific visualizations such as the animation of in-game objects. Finally, a discussion of the affordances created by different game designs will offer educators and game designers guidelines to encourage motivated gameplay.

  8. Sharritt, M. J. (2010). Evaluating Video Game Design and Interactivity. In R. Van Eck (Ed.) Interdisciplinary Models and Tools for Serious Games: Emerging Concepts and Future Directions (pp. 177–205). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Read Abstract

    An emergent, bottom-up construction of video game interaction is presented, drawing from influences in ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967), grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), and activity theory (Cole & Engeström, 1993; Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006; Vygotsky, 1978). Following, a qualitative case study highlights the use of affordances, or potentials for action, during video game player interaction among peers and the game interface. Relationships among affordances and levels of activity are presented, which broaden the concept of affordances to include motivations. Additionally, activity theory will complement analysis by introducing the mediational triangle (Cole & Engeström, 1993), providing a guide with which to analyze game player interactions and motives. The mediational triangle sheds light on the motivated activity itself, the tools available to complete the activity, and peer relationships (such as role specialization and rules of interaction) to evaluate game designs and their ability to fulfill serious purposes with meaningful outcomes.

  9. Sharritt, M. J., Sharritt, M. A., & Suthers, D.D. (2010). Analyzing Collaborative Learning in Game-Based Scenarios. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Text & Discourse (ST&D 2010), August 16–18, 2010, Chicago. (Received “Best Poster Award”).

    Read Abstract

    A qualitative case study is presented that examines learning through video games in educational contexts. An analysis of player interaction (using Transana, a qualitative video analysis software) reveals patterns of collaborative learning in student game play. Student game play (from the games Civilization IV, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, and Making History: The Calm & the Storm) describes several properties of learning within games, and how collaborative play can encourage instances of learning through cooperative and competitive behavior.

  10. Van Eck, R. (Ed.) (2010). Gaming and Cognition: Theories and Practice from the Learning Sciences. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. (M.J. Sharritt on Editorial Board).
  11. Van Eck, R. (Ed.) (2010). Interdisciplinary Models and Tools for Serious Games: Emerging Concepts and Future Directions. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. (M.J. Sharritt on Editorial Board).
  12. Cruz-Cunha, M. et al. (Eds.) (2011). Handbook of Research on Serious Games as Educational, Business and Research Tools: Development and Design. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. (M.J. Sharritt on Editorial Board).
  13. Sharritt, M. J. (2011). Designing game representations: How game interfaces constrain and promote collaborative play. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, 3(2), pp. 145–157.

    Read Abstract

    A study using contemporary computer games, including Civilization IV, Making History: The Calm & the Storm, and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (Firaxis Games 2005, Muzzy Lane 2007, Frontier Developments 2004 respectively), illustrates how the design of the game interface and its associated behaviors can guide game player activity. Affordances, or potentials for action, can constrain and promote particular game player activity by influencing game player goal formation and constraining the corresponding action potentials to achieve those goals. Results demonstrate the importance of paying close attention to what the game interface offers players, as it serves to constrain in-game activity while providing salience to particular actions. These actions can be designed in ways that guide game player activity towards the achievement of ‘Serious’ goals. Patterns among the use of the game interface and game player intentions reveal the importance of the relationship between the game interface and player activity.

  14. Sharritt, M. J., Aune, R. K., & Suthers, D. D. (2011). Gamer Talk: Becoming Impenetrably Efficient. In M. Cruz-Cunha, V. Carvalho & P. Tavares (Eds.) Business, Technological and Social Dimensions of Computer Games: Multidisciplinary Developments (pp. 252–270). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Read Abstract

    A qualitative case study of student game play is presented, describing how game player communication becomes increasingly complex, efficient, and impenetrable by those who have not actively played the game. Transcripts of gathered video tape reveal how student ‘gamer talk’ became increasingly implicit, using terminology provided by the game and their shared context of playing the game. Over time, communication among game player group members generally became more efficient and less penetrable by members outside the group (such as new players), as players engaged in culture-building activities around their shared context. However, players occasionally became more explicit in their communication when grounding was required to reach shared meaning, such as in instances where players disagreed on the purpose of a particular game feature or strategy. Finally, implications are offered to suggest ways in which gamer cultures can be made more accessible to game designers and those guiding classroom interactions.

  15. Sharritt, M. J., & Suthers, D. D. (2011). Game-Based Representations as Cues for Collaboration and Learning.(PDF) In R. E. Ferdig (Ed.) Discoveries in Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations: New Interdisciplinary Applications (pp. 163–188). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Read Abstract

    Literature suggests that games can support learning in schools by enabling creative problem solving, allowing dynamic resource allocation, providing a motivating, immersive activity, and supporting explorations of identity. A descriptive, inductive study was carried out to identify how high school students make use of the video game interface and its representations. Results demonstrate that specific cues direct attention, helping to focus efforts on new or underutilized game tasks. In addition, consistent and well-organized visualizations encourage learning and collaboration among students by providing shared referential resources and scaffolding coordinated sequences of problem solving acts during gameplay. Conversely, when affordances are inconsistently represented, students’ focus can shift from problem solving at the goal level (game strategy, etc.) to problem solving at the game interface level (which is frustrating their goals). In general, the design of game representations and behaviors can help guide or hinder student learning.

  16. Sharritt, M. J., & Suthers, D. D. (2011). Levels of failure and learning in games. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 3(4), pp. 55–71.

    Read Abstract

    A qualitative case study is presented that examines learning through video games, focusing on whether player experiences of failure create opportunities for learning. Examples of collaborative play are presented from three video games, including Civilization IV, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, and Making History: The Calm & the Storm. An inductive analysis reveals that some experiences of failure frustrate game players, leading to the abandonment of an in-game task, while others lead to increased motivation to try a different strategy. The activity-theoretic level of activity at which failure occurs is used to account for these differences in outcomes of failure.

  17. Sharritt, M. J., Aune, R. K., & Suthers, D. D. (2013). Speaking Gamer with Impenetrable Efficiency. International Journal of Creative Interfaces and Computer Graphics, 4(2).

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    A qualitative case study of student game play is presented that describes how game player communication becomes increasingly complex, efficient, and impenetrable by those who have not actively played the game. Transcripts of gathered video tape reveal how student ‘gamer talk’ became increasingly implicit, using terminology provided by the game and their shared context of playing the game. Over time, communication among game player group members generally became more efficient and less penetrable by members outside the group (such as new players), as players engaged in culture-building activities around their shared context. However, players occasionally became more explicit in their communication when grounding was required to reach shared meaning, such as in instances where players disagreed on the purpose of a particular game feature or strategy. Finally, implications are offered to suggest ways in which gamer cultures can be made more accessible to game designers and those guiding classroom interactions.

  18. Sharritt, M. J., Aune, R. K., & Suthers, D. D. (2014). l33tsp33k: How Gamers Speak with Impenetrable Efficiency. International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence, 5(1), pp. 45–65.

    Read Abstract

    A qualitative case study of student game play is presented that describes how game player communication becomes increasingly complex, efficient, and impenetrable by those who have not actively played the game. Transcripts of gathered video tape reveal how student ‘gamer talk’ became increasingly implicit, using terminology provided by the game and their shared context of playing the game. Over time, communication among game player group members generally became more efficient and less penetrable by members outside the group (such as new players), as players engaged in culture-building activities around their shared context. However, players occasionally became more explicit in their communication when grounding was required to reach shared meaning, such as in instances where players disagreed on the purpose of a particular game feature or strategy. Finally, implications are offered to suggest ways in which gamer cultures can be made more accessible to game designers and those guiding classroom interactions.

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