Gaming Design Know-Hows Chapter 2: How to design a good gaming product28-Sep-2017
Knowing your target user is the first step to designing a good product. In Chapter 1, we talked about different types of gamers and what they value most in gaming hardware design. In this piece, you will learn more about how to make your product successful.
Chapter 2: How to design a good gaming product
• Golden Principles
Principle No.1: Embellishment is less important than you think.
Designing gaming gear is serious business. Some people may have misunderstandings that gaming products are toys with cool appearances, but gamers actually look at their products as sport equipment, and they are willing to spend money on devices that they think can enhance their performance. Looking cool should just be a side effect.
Some companies embellish products too much. But remember, if you add something to a gaming product, it has to have a solid reason, and that cannot be beautification. Each “decoration” must serve a purpose. What’s more important is the performance and efficiency. Input devices especially should be highly user-centric, functional and practical. In the end, it all comes down to gamers’ performance needs.
Principle No.2: The product needs to be a serious tool.
Design styles might be influenced by various reasons: users’ tastes, market pull, branding elements, original design language, levels of professionalism, and never forget that the undertone of the product should always be a functional tool, not toy.
Even when we look for inspiration from other fields, e.g. cars, sports equipment, Nature, we don’t just copy the forms and features, but we implement the strategy to make each feature meaningful.
Principle No.3: Get your hands dirty.
Nowadays many companies only use 3D software to do design, but we strongly believe that prototypes are still crucial for proof-of-concept and ergonomics studying.
A good gaming product should have enhanced ergonomics, right features, proper proportioning and product scales. This cannot be done without the process of multiple times of prototyping and iterations. Always build prototypes with your own hands! At CRE8, we start a project with sketching and building a lot of foam models; the efforts are then followed by appearance and functional prototypes to which we add visual and functional layers; 3D software is only involved in a later phase of the project.
Principle No.4: Human factors matter!
When it comes to customers, gamers are probably the ones that value ergonomics most. Ergonomics and functionality should always walk hand in hand. And how do we get the human factors right? If we take mouse design for example, you start by studying how people use a product, and base your design on a comprehensive prototyping process to test different comfort levels. Then you iterate the product, test it again, and enable it to be engineered and mass produced.
In short, we can call it physical interaction. A lot of physical interaction can be learned from designing a mouse. This is super important in the gaming ecosystem as gamers don’t form opinions because of the look, but of functions and performance. The same principles for mouse design can also be implemented on design in general.
For headset design, because gamers have to wear it, they usually go for something that looks good and feels comfortable. If it feels comfortable overtime, gamers will grow to love it; if it also makes them look super cool when they wear it, then they will recommend it to others. If one part is missing in the equation, the whole product will fail.
• Myth: Designers need to be gamers?
You don’t have to be a good gamer to design gaming products. Somehow being naïve helps. The reason being is that gamers usually have certain habits. Subconsciously, you will become biased in ergonomics and specifications that fit your hand and behavior perfectly. That is why designing solely from your personal experience is dangerous. You will love it, but others will hate it! We study very carefully how different gamers use their equipment and based on that, we find features that help everyone.
Remember, you are not making the product for yourself, so do not project irrational personal feelings to the work. Especially when you are designing for different types of games, they require diverse specs and needs for buttons, e.g. MMO Games or FPS games. That is why it is so important to conduct proper research. Usually when there are more buttons, the ergonomics are more restrained.
Last but not least, market feedback is crucial for the improvement on your design. If you are not improving, then you are not being a good designer. Like every project at CRE8, our favorite will always be the latest one.
In this chapter, we provided useful tips on the golden principles of good gaming product design. Next time, we will talk about some of the most innovative and iconic products that CRE8 designed. Prepare to be inspired!