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Thinking Out of the Box

Saving the world by writing a gamification thesis at Centigrade

‚We always seek dedicated students looking for an interesting thesis or internship project.‘ – this call can be found when browsing the Centigrade website for job and career opportunities. A call that is hard to resist if you are an upcoming graduate student. Especially when you – like in my case – consider the many given connections between Centigrade’s north-western branch in Muelheim a. d. Ruhr and the many different universities, academies and colleges of the Ruhr area.

As you can easily see, this opportunity led me here… and now I am working on my master thesis based on a cooperation between Centigrade and the ‘Interactive Systems’ chair of University Duisburg-Essen that combines both areas of expertise and professions:

‘Development of a Gamification Design in Consideration of different Play-Personas’

Starting point of my thesis will be running a quantitive survey based on Bartle’s ‘Player Types’ to identify relevant users and their motivators for playful environments. In combination with additional demographic data like age, gender and profession this should result in one or more hypothetical user types (so called ‘personas’) for our use-case. In the following step, these gamification personas could be addressed by a specific designed gamification concept. The use-case of the project will be a mobile app prototype in the context of Energy Transition that should ideally lead to more sustainability in the user’s everyday life. That sounds like an exciting project with actual matter to me!

To those of you, who are also interested in working on their thesis in collaboration with a Centigrade project or who have gathered own ideas that could fit into the wide field of user interface architecture: Feel free to contact Centigrade via e-mail at jobs@centigrade.de .

By the way: A deeper look into my thesis’ survey, the following gamification design process and the prototype development will be soon available and regularly updated on my Instagram account (#appshamrock).

Of Science and Bavarian Beer Receptions – Visiting the “Mensch und Computer 2014” in Munich

Laura Festl
Laura Festl
September 17th, 2014

What is aesthetics and how can we determine it? Can usability tests be performed remotely to save time and money? And what happens to a Facebook profile when its user dies? These and many more interesting topics about human-computer interaction, user experience and usability where subject of this year’s conference Mensch und Computer 2014 (Human and Computer 2014) which took place in the premises of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich. read more…

Uncommunicative – do I really need a smartwatch? (Pebble review)

Times have changed. Back in the time, during my school days, before smartphones flooded the market, I felt naked without my watch. This most important accessory was also some kind of status symbol and could never be missing. I looked at it probably a hundred times a day, consciously or unconsciously. Every morning when I left the house and had forget the watch at home for some reason, I walked around all day with the feeling, that something important is missing.

Several years later, I got my first smartphone. read more…

Not Lost in Translation – About Icons and Interpreters

David Patrizi

Icon design is my day-to-day business, ranging from universally applicable Home icons to very special icons for the wiring of electric relays in substations. Recently I learned that interpreters also use symbols to be able to “sketch” the meaning of spoken words quickly and recall them later. I used this occasion to take a step back and look at other helpful uses for symbols.
read more…

Developing (a bit more) Look & Feel aware Java Swing code

Patrick Decker
May 30th, 2014

Intro

This article is intended for developers that are creating and/or maintaining applications with a Java Swing based GUI. Though JavaFX is being pushed as the “new Swing” nowadays, Swing is still around.
Look & Feels are inextricably linked with every Swing application. Even if none is used explicitly, every time, a Swing based GUI is created, a Look & Feel cares about the look and (you may guess it) the feel of what you see and interact with on the screen.

A Look & Feel – so its official title says – is pluggable. This means you can plug a new or different one to your application (strongly simplified, as this actually goes down to the level of a single JComponent). You may now ask: “But why should I care, if I do not change the Look & Feel now?” In an ideal world, you would not need to care. But, as often when using something, there are contracts.

This is what this article is about. I want to point out why you should care and develop or even maintain your Java Swing GUI or custom component with the pluggable Look & Feel technology in mind.

read more…

Why observing competitors may be detrimental

Markus Weber
April 14th, 2014

Observing competitors is a common activity in user interface design. It may, e.g., take the form of the designer collecting insights regarding design approaches of relevant competitors when a project is started. Later in a project, the user interface may be benchmarked against competitors’ solutions. While including insights about competing solutions may enrich a user interface design project, such observations are also associated with some pitfalls. A user interface designer should be aware of those in order to not endanger the success of a project. This article describes some aspects to keep in mind when engaging in competitor observation.
read more…

Evaluation of the game experience of „Need for Speed: Rivals”

In December Centigrade carried out an evaluation of the racing game “Need for Speed: Rivals” for Electronic Arts – one of the biggest publishers and developers of computer- and videogames. Focus of the evaluation was the recording and analysis of the game experience under consideration of different situations in the game.

Based on their vast experience regarding the evaluation of computer and videogames, the pilot study was conducted by the Centigrade team of the North-Western branch under direction of Joerg Niesenhaus in close collaboration with the Deutsche Sporthochschule in Cologne. The Deutsche Sporthochschule runs a state-of-the-art interaction lab and contributed expertise in the evaluation of interactive entertainment via Dr. Carsten Moeller.
read more…

It’s time to redesign email

Andreas Burghart
December 10th, 2013

Some new e-mail clients have been introduced recently. Unibox, Airmail, Mail Pilot and others feature convincing visual design, increased joy of use and intriguing interaction concepts.
In my opinion, the person-centered approach of Unibox is very promising. Instead of being organized in a folder hierarchy, e-mails are sorted based on contacts (friends, colleagues, etc.), which results in speedier e-mail retrieval. In addition, one almost forgets that one is dealing with e-mails – it feels more like a conversation between two people. I wonder why nobody has thought of this approach earlier.

The redesigns have inspired me to have closer look at e-mail clients and propose some additional concepts.

read more…

10 reasons why the “serious” software industry can learn from computer games in terms of user experience – Part 2

Günter Pellner
Günter Pellner
August 14th, 2013

In Part 1, we discovered that the emotional factor of user experience is more important to games than goal-oriented functionality (though being an effective and efficient way of reaching a goal, there is no “Save the Princess” button in a Mario game at the beginning). Up to a certain degree, well-designed user experiences can distract from negative and/or not fixable interaction flaws and can make users “like” an application more than another.

Furthermore the diverse team composition of game development studios was discussed in the first part. In this context we pointed out that the production process of games forces programmers and visual designers to work closely together. Design is not seen as an add-on but as an essential part, which is necessary for the product to work.

The last chapter focused on the aspect of small budgets in game projects. Rapid iterative testing and evaluation (RITE) helps to detect and fix flaws of a UI in a very fast way, thus reducing time and money spent on traditional usability optimization.

In Part 2 we will look at the aspects of imaginary worlds and the link between reality and simulation. Thereafter, we will show which techniques are used in games to reduce loading, and even more important, waiting times. In the last section we compare how serious applications and games introduce their functionality to the user. To get a better understanding of the concept of Gamification you can also read: “Gamification as a design process” by my colleague Jörg Niesenhaus.
read more…

„We need Ribbons“ – Pros and Cons

Tobias Gölzer
June 28th, 2013

“We need ribbons” is the new “Make it like the iPhone“. Since Microsoft introduced ribbons as part of the Office Fluent User Interface with Office 2007, this sentence is frequently uttered by clients. The rationales for this requirement range from „Microsoft has probably put a lot of thought into it“ to „Our customers are used to Office“. Ribbons seem to be perceived as a remedy for poor usability. But not every interface benefits from using ribbons.

read more…

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