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Quantifying “Magicâ€: Learnings from User Research for Creating Good Player Experiences on Xbox Kinect

Kristie J. Fisher, Tim Nichols, Katherine Isbister and Tom Fuller
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Kristie J. Fisher: Microsoft Studios, Redmond, WA, USA
Tim Nichols: Microsoft Studios, Redmond, WA, USA
Katherine Isbister: School of Engineering Game Innovation Lab, New York University, New York, NY, USA
Tom Fuller: Microsoft Studios, Redmond, WA, USA

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS), 2014, vol. 6, issue 1, 26-40

Abstract: In November 2010, Microsoft released the Kinect sensor as a new input device for the Xbox 360 gaming console, and more recently the “next generation†of Kinect was released in November 2013 as part of the Xbox One entertainment system. Kinect has the ability to detect multiple points of skeletal movement, differentiating among multiple simultaneous users. This ability enables users to control and interact with on-screen elements by moving their bodies in space (e.g., move characters, select menu items, manipulate virtual objects). Controllers or on-body sensors are not needed to use gesture inputs with Kinect, and Kinect can also detect speech inputs. The team at Microsoft Studios User Research (SUR) was an integral part of creating the first full-body gaming experiences for the Kinect system. During the development of Kinect, and in the more than 3 years since its initial launch, SUR has worked with game designers, programmers, and hardware developers on games and other applications that use Kinect. In this article the authors leverage data SUR has collected over the development cycles of many different games created for many different audiences to summarize the unique user experience challenges that the Kinect sensor brings to game development. The authors also propose principles for designing fun and accessible experiences for Kinect.

Date: 2014
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