User Experience Points

The Short Version

User Experience Points is a YouTube series that analyzes and critiques the UX design in various video games. It’s a creative milestone for me personally because it’s the first project I’ve produced entirely on my own outside of work. For the first 35 episodes, I maintained a weekly upload schedule so that my viewers could see a new one every Friday. After that I decided to take some time off to work on other projects and make time to play more games for future episodes.

Check out a few of my favorite episodes below or watch the whole series. Read on to learn more about the production of the show.

The Long Version

It all started when I realized that UX design in video games doesn’t get a lot of coverage outside of industry conferences and I wanted to expose more people to its importance. Games are themselves expertly crafted user experiences after all and are becoming more like the web applications your average web ux designer works on every day. I think that exposing the average person who enjoys video games to this aspect of game design will help further strengthen their understanding of how games are made and develop more discerning tastes when it comes games to what they want to drop $60 on.

I also felt like it would be an excellent learning opportunity to analyze experiences that use an entirely different input method than a mouse and keyboard, which lead to the show exclusively focusing on console games. From there it was a matter of putting the skills I had to good use and teaching myself new ones like capturing game footage and editing vocal recordings. The former was particularly tricky. I now know more about the difficulties of working with variable frame rates than I ever wanted to. After the initial equipment investment and producing a few episodes, I focused on improving my home office set up and streamlined the process of creating episodes. Before long I was able to produce an episode of UXP in 3-4 evenings rather than 5-6.

The Look and Feel

The overall look for UXP was developed with a simple color scheme over a grid to highlight both the graphical and technical aspects of UX design. The intro is themed after common video game menu patterns like over world maps and crafting screens. During the month it took to complete, I stepped out of my comfort zone in After Effects to learn how to effectively use camera objects and 3D rotations for more visually interesting movements.

Designing each of the three menus seen in the intro was a fun design exercise itself since I did my best to make them as plausibly functional as possible. This meant lots of sketching and storyboarding. At one point I was going to include a first-person-shooter UI as well.

The Reception

UXP was not a huge success in terms of broad appeal. My channel had hit 175 subscribers by the time I ended the weekly upload schedule with roughly 45 views per episode. Still, those who did watch it had a lot of nice things to say. I was surprised at how wonderful and supportive the developers I reached out to were even if my critiques weren’t always 100% positive.

Working on the show also allowed me to connect with the larger games user research community, which was a field I previously had barely any exposure to.

And of course the support from friends and family was motivating. My wife was often at the controls when I was recording character creation footage for various games and my buddy Jackson made me a UXP-themed Christmas ornament.

Lessons Learned

Overall I believe I walked away from this project a better designer. I learned how to brand a YouTube channel, produce high quality video content, work on my own schedule, and improved my critical eye for good UX Design. Connecting with other professional designers who share my passion for games, however, was the greatest reward.