VR PLAY: Usability and Playability Guidelines for VR Games

Heather Desurvire and Max Kreminski

Through our own work conducting user and player research on consumer based virtual reality games and other playful or creative Virtual Reality (VR) experiences, our review of existing research in the field of VR, as well as useful discussions with current VR researchers and developers, we have created the VR PLAY guidelines for virtual reality. Having success in developing and utilizing design principles for console, mobile, and computer based games for triple A game companies to optimize player experience, we developed an understanding of some of the unique challenges in VR not covered in other areas.

The VR PLAY guidelines are a set of guidelines intended to assist designers and game user researchers of VR games in working through usability and playability issues that are unique to, or intensified by, VR. These guidelines are broken up into five categories: Usability, Playability, VR Immersion, Creative VR, and New Player Experience. Each guideline consists of three parts: a short summary suggesting a principle that designers may use to gain insight into their own games; a longer explanation of the reasoning and principles behind the guideline; and a number of examples of existing VR games and software that either adhere to or violate the guideline, demonstrating how the guideline may be used. Our talk will introduce the audience to the guidelines and teach them how to apply the guidelines to their own VR games, both as a tool for evaluating the usability and playability of existing games and as a source of guidance and inspiration in the process of designing and optimizing the player experience in new games.

We have made the VR PLAY guidelines available to designers and game user researchers via a public-facing website, which can be viewed at https://userbehavioristics.squarespace.com/vr-play.

We evaluated the effectiveness of the guidelines by introducing them to the designer of an existing VR experience developed for Steelcase in conjunction with the University of Southern California (USC) Mobile & Environmental Media Lab.

  • Category: Talk
Heather Desurvire

Instructor in the SCA Interactive Media & Games Division at the University of Southern California (USC), Heather Desurvire is President and founder of User Behavioristics Research, Inc. a Player Experience Insight company consulting to top publishers and studios for creating better consumer games through optimal user and player experience. She is also a published author and contributor to the HCI and game community knowledge base in Player Experience.

Heather has worked on over 300 products and 100+ games, improving their user and player experience with insights non-rivaled due to the extensive depth of experience. Her research work has appeared in journals and conferences such as the HCI, INTERACT, IEEE, and CHI, with over 34+ publications, and 3 book chapters, with another currently in process. She is also a board member and co-founder of the IGDA Game User Research special interest group, and has been co-organizer of the GDC Summit for Game User Research. She co-chaired the SIGCHI Game Community in the years 2014-2015 and is currently an associate chair of game papers, helping to shepherd this burgeoning field.

Max Kreminski

Max Kreminski is a Computational Media PhD student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a Junior Researcher at User Behavioristics, Max conducted user and player research on a wide variety of games, including a number of virtual reality games and experiences, and co-authored the VR PLAY guidelines. Max also worked as a researcher, designer and developer of VR experiences at the University of Southern California’s Mobile & Environmental Media Lab. In 2017, Max graduated from USC with a BA in Interactive Media and a minor in Game User Research.”