Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Computer Science


Keith O'Hara

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Over the past few years, the video game industry has seen an explosion of innovative new interfaces. From touch-based mobile games on the Apple iPhone and Nintendo DS to console titles on the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect requiring players to physically move around their living rooms, the definition of `video game controls' has expanded far beyond the traditional controller. Although such novel control schemes have been met with unarguable commercial and critical success, little research has been done to explore the effectiveness of these interfaces from the standpoint of user performance: we do not know if touch- and tangible-based interfaces make us better gamers, or to what extent they might. This paper explores this question, specifically looking at how such interfaces can improve player performance by providing a more natural and direct means of interacting with the game and by enabling players to multitask more efficiently in-game. To accomplish this, a game was developed for the Apple iPad that was designed to be controlled in three different ways: a traditional joystick interface, a multi-touch interface, and a tangible interface with a physical game piece, each with optional multitouch gestures. A custom automated analytics system was built on top of the game, allowing quantitative performance data to be gathered from user testing sessions held with Bard students.

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