Discipline: Computer Sciences and Information Management
Subcategory: Computer Science & Information Systems
Ivonne Lopez - University of Texas at El Paso
The Sol y Agua project is a computer game based on regional issues that aim to augment the learning environment of middle schools students. The students are exposed to scenarios that help students learn about the impact of society on the environment through various activities. These activities require that the students analyze data following scientific procedures to make informed decisions regarding water sources, maintenance, and sustainability, among others. In order to accomplish the goals of the game, it is imperative that the game provides students with an engaging experience that generates positive emotions. An engaging experience is highly depended on two factors: User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). Human-computer interaction (HCI) research aims to develop guidelines to improve user experience by making a system’s user interface intuitive, learnable and consistent; however, HCI research rarely considers the application of these same principles to software created for entertainment. There is also less work done on how regional issues and cultural attributes impact user engagement. Concerns have arisen about whether the same HCI standard practices that apply to non-leisure software are effective when designing educational games. From the HCI perspective, to develop an efficient and enjoyable user interface along with providing a positive user experience for the Sol y Agua computer game, the project followed guidelines such as Shneiderman’s Eight Golden Rules  and Norman’s Design Principles . These guidelines have been modified to develop an appropriate user interface that enhances the user experience for a computer game, which distinguishes it from non-leisure software. The evaluation plan to determine usability of the game includes five factors: learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction. These factors allow assessment of the modifications that were made to the HCI guidelines for non-leisure software. The feedback is being used to improve the modified guidelines. The expected outcomes is a set of HCI guidelines focused specifically on the design of computer games.
References:  Shneiderman, B., & Plaisant, C. (2010). Designing the user interface: Strategies for effective human-computer interaction (5th ed.). Boston: Addison-Wesley.
 Rogers, Y., Sharp, H., & Preece, J. (2011). Interaction design: Beyond human-computer interaction. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This research is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers HRD-1342038.
Faculty Advisor: Monika Akbar, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: My contribution to the Sol y Agua project has been the design of the game's user interface (UI) to improve user experience (UX).