Overview of serious games

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The following chapter discusses existing literature in the field of serious games, UCD and UX. The chapter is divided in two main sections, the first section covers an overview of serious games discussing the state in corporate training and its applications. The second section covers UCD and UX, compares various representations of the UCD process and generates a single general representation based on the comparison. This section also discusses the different challenges of UCD practice in organisations

 Overview of serious games

Michael and Chen (2006) define a serious game as “a game in which education (in its various forms) is the primary goal, rather than entertainment.” Matallaoui et al. (2016) further describe serious games as complete games that may have an education or learning background, example, a game that teaches the problems of project management. The teaching potential of serious games can be used by educators, corporations, non-governmental organisations or artists, basically, anyone who has something to teach, a skill to pass on, or a message to preach (Michael & Chen, 2006). Moreover, in developing games for the workplace, Prensky (in Michael and Chen (2006)) suggests situations where game-based learning would be useful to include two main areas, one when the subject matter is complex or particularly difficult to transmit and two when developing or communicating corporate strategies. A survey conducted by Fedwa et al (2014) revealed that serious games are growing rapidly both as research field and in industry

Serious games in Corporate training

According to Basten (2017) a serious game is used to get people more involved and interactive in work related situations, and it helps to motivate communication and collaboration. In their investigation of how serious games can be integrated into companies, Azadegan & Riedel (2012) noted that when employees are given a choice on how to learn most will select playing a game as a preferred learning tool since they enjoy the engagement. Other benefits of serious games adoption in organisations as noted by Riedel et.al (2013) include the ability of serious games to produce learning results quickly as well as getting everyone involved in the process

Applications of serious games in education and training

An example of a serious game is COSIGA, a multimedia, multi-player computer-based simulation game that was designed to support the education of engineers in the use of concurrent engineering for new product development (Haugea & Riedel, 2012). The game simulates the collaborative process of product development; the players have to work together to make the final product. COSIGA enables the players to experience the process of new product development from the perspectives of the different disciplines involved in the design process and to build their own understanding of the issues of design, manufacture, marketing, project and purchasing management; and the interactions between these disciplines (Haugea & Riedel, 2012). Another application of serious games includes the work done by Léger (2006), he proposes a “learning-by-doing” approach to teaching ERP concepts and ideas through a simulation game called ERPsim. One of the main learning objectives of the game was to develop a hands-on understanding of the concepts underlying enterprise systems. The approach generated a lot of interest and involvement in learning when it was tested with students with a need to learn ERP concepts.


UCD is a process that helps make products that meet the needs of their users. A UCD approach can be implemented to ensure that a product maintains great UX (Lowdermilk, 2013). UCD is not limited to the design of a product only, although product aesthetics is significant, UCD ensures that the product meets its designed purpose and user needs.

Comparison of UCD processes

This section reviews how various authors have discussed the UCD process and activities involved in order to identify the similarities and differences when applying UCD.
The term UCD was coined by Donald Norman in the 1980’s and has been widely used since then, in his recent publication he uses the term HCD instead. According to Norman (2013), there are four different activities in a HCD process which are Observation, Idea generation (Ideation), Prototyping and Testing. These activities are conducted in an iterative manner as illustrated below (Figure 2-1
Observation is the initial research conducted on the people who will use the product in order to understand the problems they face and the needs they have. The most important aspect is to ensure that research is conducted on the appropriate group of users, that is, the intended audience of the product. The output of the observation phase is a set of design requirements (Norman, 2013).
Idea generation or ideation is a process of creating potential solutions to the problems identified from the research. There are many methods of generating ideas, the most common one being brainstorming; however, the general rule is to create as much ideas as possible and allow for creativity over constraints (Norman, 2013).
Prototyping is a process that involves building a quick representation of each potential solution. During the early stages such representations can be sketches, cardboard models or simple images made from drawing tools and these can be converted into digital representations as the project advances (Norman, 2013).
The testing phase involves gathering a population of the intended audience in order to have them use the prototypes created. The goal of this activity is to determine whether the created solutions address the needs of the audience, the result of the test can be used to improve the design solutions (Norman, 2013). These activities are conducted in an iterative manner in order to ensure continual improvement of the solutions, with each iteration, ideas can be refined and developed into a working solution.
The ISO has published standards for UCD and specification of usability, to emphasize on the impact of stakeholders in general and not necessarily users, ISO uses the term “human-centered” (HCD) rather than “user-centered” (Murray & Buie, 2012).
ISO 18529 process model outlines seven HCD processes for introducing and operating systems and services for government projects. These seven processes are divided into enabling HCD, executing HCD and an introduction process. HCD 1 and HCD 2 are enabling processes and these determine how human-centered activities will fit into the whole system lifecycle. HCD 3, HCD 4, HCD 5 and HCD 6 are execution processes and these bare similarities with the UCD activities outlined by Norman (2013). The final process HCD 7 involves the deployment of the new system. Figure 2-2 presents a diagrammatical representation of the HCD process as defined by ISO 18529.
This section looks further into activities similar to Norman (2013), that is, HCD 3 – Specify stakeholder and organizational requirements, HCD 4 – Understand the specific context of use, HCD 5 – Produce Design solutions and HCD 6 – Evaluate designs against requirements (Murray & Buie, 2012).
HCD 3 is an execution process whose main goal is to determine the needs and requirements of the organization and relevant stakeholders, moreover, HCD 4 requires identification of the organization and physical environment in which the system will be used. Both of these are similar to Norman (2013) observation phase which requires an understanding of the needs and problem environment. HCD 5 is an execution phase whose goal is to create potential design solutions through the development of design prototypes. This is similar to the Ideation phase and prototyping phase from Norman (2013). Finally, HCD 6 and is similar to Norman (2013) Testing phase, both of which require collecting feedback on the developed design.
Another author who has discussed the UCD process is Dhandapani (2016), the author documents that UCD processes involve understanding the needs of the users through research, analysing the needs and requirements of the users, coming up with design solutions to meet the requirements and then evaluating the solution through iterative tests and feedback. The steps outlined in this paper have a similar format with previous discussed works.
Moreover, according to usability.gov, an online resource for user experience best practices and guidelines, there are four general phases of the UCD process. These phases are specifying the context of use which involves identifying people who will use the product, specifying requirements which involves identifying business requirements and user goals that must be met, creating design solutions and finally evaluating the designs through testing with users (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017).
The comparison of the works done by other authors reveals that the activities conducted during a UCD process although adapted to a specific context are usually similar in execution. The main difference lies in the terminology used and at times grouping of activities. However, in general UCD processes require a proper understanding of users and context of use through research, development of potential design solutions, building representation of the design solutions and finally testing the solutions against users in order to get feedback for further improvement. All these activities are conducted in an iterative manner that require revisiting previous activities in order to improve the solutions

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 Challenges of UCD practice in organizations

There is still resistance in creating a good user experience in organizations, this is because of the difference in stakeholder goals for the product. Technology is still viewed as more important than user experience (Kraft, 2012). Kashfi et al. (2017) describe communication and collaboration gap between UX and non-UX practitioners as one of the challenges of incorporating user experience practices into product development processes. They argue that UCD practices requires regular communication and collaboration among UX and non-UX practitioners which sometimes can be challenging since these two groups of practitioners often have different responsibilities, education, motivation, and constraints in their work. The authors further state that organizations struggle with knowledge concerning factors such as the concept of UX, the potential of UX to add value to software, existing UX methods and how to apply them in development processes. These challenges presented make it clear that there is a need to find better means to integrate UCD practices into organizations.
Ardito et al. (2014) provide evidence on the fact that software developers maintain a “developer mind-set”. This means that developers are aware of usability and its importance in improving products however they only focus on the technical and functional aspects of a product. Moreover, there seems to be a lot of knowledge about UX models but there is limited use in the making of services and/or products. This may be caused partially by the lack of connection between designers and developers and because of the lack of agreement in focus. The designer’s primary focus is on the needs of the user whereas the focus of the developer is on functionality (Chamberlain et al., 2006).
Moreover, there is an emphasis on viability in the sense that there is a lack of methods that could be easily integrated into practice without demanding a lot of resources (Ardito, et al., 2014). The authors further recommend that academics need to translate formally described methods into something that makes sense for companies and is ready to be applied.
Another recommendation made by Kraft (2012) in overcoming these challenges is to conduct innovative workshops to different members of the organization on how to maintain UCD practices. This inclusion can lead to generation of ideas and perspectives of different stakeholders.
In summary, it can be concluded that organizations need innovative means to incorporate UCD practices into their software product development activities and teams. This study creates a serious game as a tool for describing the UCD process to organizations taking into consideration the different stakeholder goals. The serious game creates a common environment in which the UCD process can be explored, discussed and learned to gain new understanding. This type of learning allows the active participant to put the knowledge gained into play, moreover, the game allows for communication and collaboration between the various stakeholders in a work environment. The serious game is based on a general representation of the UCD process as shown in Figure 2-3, this representation was created after comparison of different UCD processes as discussed in literature

1.1 Motivation
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Delimitations
1.6 Outline
2.1 Overview of serious games
2.2 UCD
2.3 Comparison of UCD processes
3.1 Design Science Research
3.2 Data collection
3.3 Data Analysis
4.1 Card game description
4.2 Card game evaluation
5.1 Discussion of method
5.2 Discussion of findings
5.3 Conclusions

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