User experience in games can be evaluated using several concepts like fun, immersion, engagement, flow and involvement. It could also be evaluated by what factors make the play fun and social play. Other approaches could be based upon the attitudes towards the games and the different experiences people experience and this would depend on the semantic differentials.
If one were to take an industry perspective, this evaluation would be closely connected with the development phases of the game. There are various methods used to carry out an evaluation of the user experience in games. They are the methods used to evaluate the experience during the various phases of game development.
It is a phase dedicated to the initial idea of the game before it is produced. It is devoted to producing the very first of the concept document that describes the game. The team usually involved in this phase is very small and consists of the producer, artist, programmer and the designer. The goal of evaluating the game at this phase is to understand whether the game being developed would be fun for people to play it and enjoy as well as evaluate the type of experience they would have when playing it.
Pre-production phase includes development of production plans and art styles whereas the prototype phase is used for making a piece of the software that works. This is useful as it demonstrates the main game characteristics, thus enable the understanding of some concepts that are basic and play a part in the general experience of the user. The localization phase enables the game play to undergo adjustments that allow it to be suited to the different market tastes, language modifications and translations. In the Alpha-phase, the game is able to be played from start to end and several evaluation methods could be used to assist people understand it well.
There are several methods and approaches that could be used to evaluate the user experience during these phases of development. They are the use of focus groups which would represent a certain fraction of the targeted group of users. Interviews could also be employed in the evaluation exercise as they are useful methods of collecting.
Informal play testing would be another effective method to use as it would directly gauge the experience that the users selected would have concerning the game. Questionnaires could be administered to a group of users and the feedback they give would be used for the game experience evaluation.
Play testing and analyzing the play patterns that exist would also help get to understand the general user experience which is very important for social play. For an inexperienced gamer, it would be appropriate to use the GAP approach which investigates the game experience of a user group that is special.
Other methods of evaluation that could be used would include interviews that are semi-structured, observations, quantitative comparison of behaviors depicted by the gamers and video coding methods. It is important that the questionnaires administered or any other method used for evaluation should focus on the user experience in games.