Monday, August 3, 2015

It's the Map of the Game - Live from #CAST2015

One of the interesting approaches we experimented with was a game called "The Room" which has a slightly Silent Hill puzzle vibe to it, sans the homicidal faceless nurses, of course ;). We spent the better part of a half hour exploring the game and learning about the details we can play with in its tutorial setting.

What was the point to this? Well, other than getting us all to play a game for thirty minutes, we had a chance to consider how we interact with mobile devices and the methods of interaction. I remember when the iPhone was released in 2007, and while I didn't jump on and buy one. I was familiar with them from testing, and it was a definitely different way to interact with a device. Think of all the ways that you interact with an iPhone or an Android device (and sure, A Windows Phone, too, though I've never actually used one). The touch and multi-gesture format, the loading of apps, and the mobile first model is making some interesting changes to how we consume information and the way that sires work. Sekar made the point that a number of businesses in India are doing everything through mobile... they are literally shutting down and turning off their traditional desktop web sites!

Interacting with mobile devices brings some fundamental challenges that working on a desktop or laptop device do not. Beyond touch alone, there are issues of the screen space and how characters are displayed, as well as the input options and how the user interacts with the product. Unlike a traditional web site, where data entry at a QWERTY keyboard is required, mobile apps are meant to be optimized for minimal typing and movements. Many updates and data items are created by using the accelerometer. or via geolocation, or through other methods. In other words, orientation and motion affect how an app works (in some games, orientation and motion are specific actions required for the games to be played).

One thing I have learned from testing is that the battery state has a lot to do with the way that a system responds. Systems work better with phones that have a greater charge as compared to those that have a lower charge. Screen orientation can greatly affect what the app displays (horizontal vs. vertical). What do we see when we switch from horizontal to vertical? Data plans can vary wildly, and the amount of data we can use also varies. To allow us to leverage WiFi hotspots, the phones are able to jump onto known networks whenever we are in the vicinity, provided we have met the requirements for authentication. How does our app respond when it jumps from cellular data network to WiFi and back?

This is the point where mind maps and mobile testing can come together. Mind Maps are actually accessible and modifiable via mobile devices, more so that large text documents with a lot of text are. By using a mobile device while we test it, we can capture interesting observations and update a mind map via a mobile device more quickly than locating a desktop computer or laptop and making the updates.

Sekar provided us with a detailed mind map that shows some of these considerations, so we're going to go back and reconsider some of the tests we performed on Hop! with this in mind, and utilize the map to help guide our efforts... indeed, we are much more focused and targeted with our testing and exploration this time around (I guess it really does help navigation when you have a good quality map :) ).
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