Everyone who loves his job knows this kind of occupational disease. In university, I had an awesome Art Direction and Photography teacher, I couldn’t watch a movie without noticing and analysing it. Composition, lighting, colors, camera angle… I know programmer that always take a look at sourcecode of a website, to see how it was build. Maybe chefs, cooks or pastry chefs can’t eat something without trying to notice ingredients.
When I mention that, I often hear that this would rob anyone of enjoying things. But I’m not so sure that’s the case. I think it is just a different way. It is enjoying by noticing, analysing and acknowledging the skill that went into something. To be honest, it would be awful if everyone would do that. As I’ve stated before, good UX is invisible. But as an UX pro myself I like the thought that fellow colleagues would maybe notice my work. It’s like the insider-knowledge of a small group, a secret nod of acknowledgement.
I started my career in game development. And I love to work in projects for games. UX for games is in many cases special and different. Maybe even more difficult, because you don’t have a “problem” to solve like many other apps or products. It is more of a meta-level. Maybe that’s why I often take joy in analysing usability and UX in games I play. And recently I played one, that make me want to bow towards their UX team (or extremly talented UI arists that should seriously consider calling themselves UX pros!)!
I tried Gardenscapes for iPad. It’s way more casual than my usual console and pc ones, but perfect for inbetween distraction and killing time on long train rides. Most of those kind of games I’ve played before have certain UX issues. Very often they have very aggressive monetisation, even tricking the user into clicking the “buy” button (by placing it right there where usually the “continue” button would be)… yeah, that’s the dark side…
Gardenscapes had convinced me right from the start. A clean and well structured interface, seemless onboarding and tutorial… All in all a fine piece of work. Maybe a bit bumpy here and there (I noticed some potential for improvement e.g. in the user flow when failing a level). But a few days ago, a new patch fixed many of these usability issues. And especially the flow after a level turned out very well. No unneccessary clicks, no confusing stuff… Sure here and there still not perfect, but much better than everything I’ve seen so far, usability-wise.
If you are an UX pro, take a look at this game! Even if it’s usually not the kind of your usual pastimes… (and if someone of the Playrix UX team should read this: You guys did great work! I love it!)