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User Research and Testing with Children

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An Introduction to games research with children, looking at the theory, best practice, ethics, and putting it into practice.

Presented at UX Scotland 2014 by Claudio Franco (Senior Research Manager at Dubit) and Esther Stringer (CEO of Border Crossing Media).

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User Research and Testing with Children

  1. 1. User Research and Testing with Children UX Scotland 2014 Tutorial Claudio Franco @dubit @clauzdifranco Esther Stringer @BCM_Tweets @EstherBCM
  2. 2. Introduction: Dubit & Border Crossing Media Senior Research Manager - Games and Media Dubit, digital entertainment studio based in Leeds Ongoing Professional Doctorate (PhD) Digital books, storytelling and audience involvement Managing Director – Border Crossing Media, User Specialists MMRS User research, analytics, facilitator and trainer UX Scotland 2014
  3. 3. Agenda UX Scotland 2014 ● Introduction to games research with Children ● In Theory: o General Principles o Best Practices ● In Practice: o Game Production Tools and Techniques o Set-up your own user research test ● In Other Sectors (if time): o Education
  4. 4. Introduction
  5. 5. ● What is game design? ● What are the different stages of game design / production? ● How can research and testing help throughout different stages of game design / production? ● What de-risking strategies can be used through player involvement? UX Scotland 2014 Introduction: Research for Game Design
  6. 6. “In the broadest sense, game design refers to the idea behind a game. But it's come to mean a whole lot more than that. In large immersive games, game design refers to the central theme or point, as well as the story and plot and the characters' back-stories. In smaller games and in games in which there are no significant characters or plot (for example, in a racing game), game design refers to how one plays the game. What are the rules? How is the game scored? How does the level of difficulty change with play? What makes the game fun or challenging?” Source: http://www.gamecareerguide.com UX Scotland 2014 Introduction: Game Design
  7. 7. ● Game design - ‘evolutionary’ process ● Inspiration / conventions from previous titles, genres and stories ● Developer creativity is essential ● Research can “de-risk” design and production ● Audience Involvement - children as potential players o fine-tune ideas o find usability issues o understand what’s most enjoyable through play-testing and observation o tap into their creativity ● Often termed a LEAN or ITERATIVE approach o LOOPS: insight > design > build > test > design > build > test... UX Scotland 2014 Introduction: Games Research
  8. 8. In theory
  9. 9. Main resources for guiding principles: www.mrs.org.uk www.coppa.org UX Scotland 2014 Guiding Principles, Standards and Best Practice
  10. 10. Purpose of the Code: 1. To support all those engaged in market, social or opinion research in maintaining professional standards. 2. To reassure the general public and other interested parties that research is carried out in a professional and ethical manner. Full Code is available at www.mrs.org.uk • Largest research society World-Wide • Members in >60 countries around the World • Supports best practice by setting and enforcing standards UX Scotland 2014 The MRS Code of Conduct
  11. 11. 1. Ensure that participation in their activities is based on voluntary informed consent. 2. Be straightforward and honest in all their professional and business relationships 3. Be transparent as to the subject and purpose of data collection. 4. Respect the confidentiality of information collected in their professional activities. 5. Respect the rights and well-being of all individuals. 6. Ensure that respondents are not harmed or adversely affected by their professional activities 7. Balance the needs of individuals, clients and their professional activities. 8. Exercise independent professional judgement in the design, conduct and reporting of their professional activities. 9. Ensure that their professional activities are conducted by persons with appropriate training, qualifications and experience. 10. Protect the reputation and integrity of the profession. UX Scotland 2014 MRS Code of Conduct: 10 Guiding Principles
  12. 12. UX Scotland 2014 MRS Code of Conduct :Children ● Obtain the consent of a parent or Responsible Adult (loco parentis) when interviewing a child under 16.* ● When consent is required, ensure the adult is given sufficient information about the nature of the project to enable them to provide informed consent. ● Consent from the adult must be recorded (name, relationship or role). ● For self-completion/postal surveys, ensure: o When it is known (or ought reasonably to be known) that all or a majority of respondents are likely to be under 16, these are addressed to the parent or Responsible Adult;and o when it is known (or ought reasonably to be known) that all or a majority of Respondents are likely to be under 16, that all questionnaires carry a note or notice explaining that consent is required for all Children to participate. *can be waived under special circumstances but only with prior approval from MRS Market Research Standards Board
  13. 13. ● For projects administered with electronic communications, where it is known (or ought reasonably to be known) ensure that Respondents are asked to give their age before any other personal information is requested. Further, if the age given is under 16, the child must be excluded from giving further personal information until the appropriate consent from a parent or Responsible Adult has been obtained and verified. ● In all cases, members must ensure that a child has an opportunity to decline to take part, even though a responsible adult has given permission for their participation. This remains the case if a project takes place in school. ● Members must ensure that information about other individuals is not collected from a child unless for the purposes of gaining permission from a responsible adult. UX Scotland 2014 The MRS Code of Conduct: Children
  14. 14. Who is it for? Anyone that operates a commercial website or an online services that is directed to children under 13 that collects personal information from children or if you operate a general audience website and have actual knowledge that you are collecting personal information from children. Full Guidance: www.coppa.org UX Scotland 2014 COPPA: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 • US Federal Law • Effective from April 2000, Revised in 2008 • Applies to online collection of personal information from Children under 13
  15. 15. UX Scotland 2014 COPPA: Privacy Policy Must have link placed on the home page Must make link clearly distinguishable from other links
  16. 16. 1. Name and contact information of all operators collecting or maintaining information. 2. The kinds of information being held and how the information is being collected. 3. How the operator will use the information. 4. Whether the information is disclosed to 3rd parties and if so who they are, what is it for, confidentiality agreements. 5. That the parent can opt to only consent for information to be used by the operator and not 3rd parties. 6. The child is not asked to disclose more information than is necessary for participation. 7. That the parent can review the child’s information, ask to have it deleted and refuse further collection or use of information and how to do this. COPPA: Content of Privacy Policy: UX Scotland 2014
  17. 17. Piaget’s Central Theory: Children cannot undertake certain tasks until they are psychologically mature enough to do so. UX Scotland 2014 Age-appropriate methods
  18. 18. Stage in Development Play patterns Needs Loves ● 0 – 2: Physical Beings, dominated by senses ● 2 – 3: Increased use of verbal representation but speech is egocentric ● 0 -2: Highly tactile – manipulate objects ● 2 – 3: Symbolic play/role play- using a stick as a magic wand ● Security and safety ● Love from parent ● Colourful ● Simple sounds/repetition ● Music Impact on Research: ● Hard to research, but it is possible at around 18 months ● Make sure your test material is visual and physical element to it ● Be careful they are reacting to your test material and not to YOU! ● Need to be in their environment (at home, with mum nearby) UX Scotland 2014 Under 3
  19. 19. Stage in Development Play patterns Needs Loves ● Learning social skills ● Pre-logical ● Black and white thinking ● Self centred /Impulsive ● Short attention spans ● Beginning to use language, read and write ● Times of regression ● Emulatory ● Imaginative/dramatic play ● Girls: house, princesses, fairies ● Boy: crash and bash ● Security and safety ● Love from parent ● Fun, safe, fantasy, empowerment ● Structure to story, social learning ● Animation with clear outlines ● Slapstick, silly action ● Sudden surprise – boo! ● High sensory ● Magical, everyday is filled with new experiences Impact on Research: • Material must be visual • Children can be creative – tap into their fantasy world • Empower them/role play • Interview them at their home or an environment they know well • Still important to have an adult they know around to provide reassurance and help them chat • Important to lay down ground rules in research context 3 - 6
  20. 20. Stage in Development Play patterns Needs Loves ● Fitting in stage, social conformists – peers important, group orientated and love clubs ● Logical and reasoning skills are developing – reversibility and class inclusion ● Push away from “childhood” in order to affirm new identity ● Impressionable ● Friendship based on play interests and activities ● Boys and girls are likely to play separately ● Imaginative play diminishes considerably. ● Collecting: ownership/ uniqueness/responsibility ● Play ground hierarchy and competition ● Autonomy – pushing away from parents ● Acceptance ● Success ● More concrete thinking ● Prefer ‘realistic’ heroes and aspirations ● Social stress - Turn to properties and people (best friend) that will help them ● Understanding of abstract (random) humour, slapstick ● Dark humour becomes appealing - testing morals ● Puns, sarcasm, innuendo Impact on Research: • Language and memory skills have developed - but can still struggle with ‘difficult language’ • Older children are more capable but it’s still important to use appropriate language • Memory can be limited – helps to have stimulus in front of them • Best to talk to them with a friend (confidence, honesty, self esteem) • Giving them pre-tasks prior to the focus group can prevent group effect 6 - 11
  21. 21. Stage in Development Play patterns Needs Loves ● Looking for an identity, a desire for self expression ● Swinging between leaving childhood and becoming an adult ● Beginning to feel interested in the opposite sex ● Hormonal ● Group companionship activities ● Life style magazines ● Concert and music collecting ● Pets ● Friendship – peer approval is essential ● Friendships are more established ● Freedom and independence ● Seek increased power over their own lives ● Need to connect to properties within a realistic framework in which to fantasise ● Can be self conscious, shy and insecure ● Cognitive ability means they can process complex humour ● Drawn to shows with a dark side (gross, violent, taboo) – outlet for their emotions Impact on Research: • Young people of this age are generally more capable of abstract thinking • Can have in depth discussions about hypothetical issues (the what ifs) • They appreciate being treated like adults, more likely to respond maturely/share ideas • They’ve developed personal interests and tastes, • It’s important to treat them as individuals and not to patronise or presume anything • Don’t try too hard (this won’t look cool) 11 - 16
  22. 22. When only face to face will do: ● For children under 7 ● When discussing certain topics ● When you need to observe their behaviour directly ● For some children with additional support needs Practical Tips: • Be aware of your influence and set the tone • Think about the bigger picture • Give them clear boundaries, tell them when they have over-stepped. • Keep language simple and appropriate. • Let them speak - 8 second rule • Give them ownership of tasks – scribes etc. • At least every 20 minutes give them a break or a different stimulus. • Avoid Groupthink by assigning individual tasks and giving praise for individual thought. • Try using creative techniques to enable children such as: drawing, cartoons, word association. UX Scotland 2014 Face to face interviews and focus groups
  23. 23. • Be aware of your influence and set the tone by sharing information about yourself • Think about the bigger picture – children’s backgrounds and situations will impact their answers considerably until they start abstract thinking. • Give them clear boundaries and tell them when they have over-stepped. • Keep language simple and appropriate. • Let them speak - 8 second rule • Give them ownership of tasks – scribes etc. • At least every 20 minutes give them a break or a different stimulus. • Avoid Groupthink by assigning individual tasks and giving praise for individual thought. • Try using creative techniques to enable children to give a free answer such as: Cartoons and image strips Draw their answers Word Association Z UX Scotland 2014 Best Practice Tips for Face to Face
  24. 24. Discussion Guides: • Start with simple easy questions – favourite things, family friends • Keep discussion open without too many questions • Write them out exactly who you will say them • Children like to be involved as part of the process so explain it to them • Make sure there is enough time for them to complete the tasks • Have lots of activities and keep flexible! Trouble Shooting: Best Practice Tips for Face to Face They all stop talking Change it up (subject/environment) One wants to go to the toilet If under 11 take them all (if alone) They say they are bored Find out why and then change it up! They get distracted and go off topic Let them go (within the boundaries set) They start whispering Give them a look, then take them out of the room One doesn’t speak Let them be scribe, ask direct but easy questions
  25. 25. 1. Digital Ethnography ● Study of online communities and human-technology interactions through the use of qualitative research methods ● Lurkers and watchers in forums and games ● Monitoring and aggregating information about human behaviour, interactions and networking ● Utilise other techniques such as surveys, analytics reviews, heuristic evaluation, guerrilla research 2. Blogging/Panels ● Children keep online blogs and/or diaries ● Can be used to track specific behaviour or tasks ● Can be used to track general behaviour 3. Clickroom: ● Virtual focus group tool ● Creates an interactive environment that engages and excites participants! UX Scotland 2014 Digital Options
  26. 26. Game Production Stages UX Scotland 2014
  27. 27. In Practice
  28. 28. Core stages and approaches ● Early Design: o Concept Testing ● Later Design: o “Paper” prototyping ● Production: o Play testing Z UX Scotland 2014 Tools and Techniques
  29. 29. ● Where to conduct research: home or kid-friendly space ● How to dress ● Give them a role: kids as game designers ● Don’t overdo it – trying to be cool ● Refreshments – yes, some… (crunch, crunch, crunch!) ● Encouraging participation in groups ● Body language ● Accumulating feedback and ideas validation (from group to group) Top Tips UX Scotland 2014
  30. 30. UX Scotland 2014 Your turn…… • You are researching a new game about Clyde’s Adventures getting ready for the Common Wealth Games for 8 year olds. • You are asked to discover: - What games are they currently playing and why - Why they like to play games they do - What they don’t like about the games they play - What they sports they like - What they think that Clyde does for his morning routine • Using the worksheet being handed round and what we have learnt today about child appropriate minutes design a research plan – 5 minutes • When the time is up – share you plan with your neighbour
  31. 31. Overview of research Environment (where, what time of day) Who will be present ( # participants, others) Who to get permission from how Data Collection Technique Boundaries to set Shopping list Key Topic Guide Questions Activities / Techniques
  32. 32. Stage in Development Play patterns Needs Loves ● Fitting in stage, social conformists – peers important, group orientated and love clubs ● Logical and reasoning skills are developing – reversibility and class inclusion ● Push away from “childhood” in order to affirm new identity ● Impressionable ● Friendship based on play interests and activities ● Boys and girls are likely to play separately ● Imaginative play diminishes considerably. ● Collecting: ownership/ uniqueness/responsibility ● Play ground hierarchy and competition ● Autonomy – pushing away from parents ● Acceptance ● Success ● More concrete thinking ● Prefer ‘realistic’ heroes and aspirations ● Social stress - Turn to properties and people (best friend) that will help them ● Understanding of abstract (random) humour, slapstick ● Dark humour becomes appealing - testing morals ● Puns, sarcasm, innuendo Impact on Research: • Language and memory skills have developed - but can still struggle with ‘difficult language’ • Older children are more capable but it’s still important to use appropriate language • Memory can be limited – helps to have stimulus in front of them • Best to talk to them with a friend (confidence, honesty, self esteem) • Giving them pre-tasks prior to the focus group can prevent group effect 6 - 11
  33. 33. In Other Sectors
  34. 34. UX Scotland 2014 Education
  35. 35. For more information contact: Claudio Franco @dubit @clauzdifranco Esther Stringer @BCM_Tweets @EstherBCM Thank You

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