Abstract Title

The Role of Negative Transfer in Adoption of Videogame Controllers

Presentation Type

Paper

Abstract

Background: Historically, videogame controllers have been designed in a heavily iterative manner. While new functions are added to controllers with relative frequency, the layout of controllers has not radically changed in over 20 years. Part of this lack of change may be due to an expectation of negative transfer, which users have consistently cited as a barrier to adoption of new gaming technology. Negative transfer is defined as interference of previously learned skills upon learning skills in a new environment.

Method: In order to test negative transfer caused by the introduction of a new design of controller, participants were asked to use the Steam Controller, a new PC-based game controller which makes several significant departures from previous control-design hallmarks, to play a videogame called “Press X to Not Die.” Players completed a 30 minute playthrough of the game using the Steam controller in which their errors were recorded, and completed a short gaming history and subjective usability questionnaire.

Results: In-game errors were positively correlated with previous experience with other controllers. Additionally, players with higher levels of experience using other controllers were more likely to suffer failures due to response timeout. Finally, subjective usability scores were negatively correlated with previous controller experience.

Discussion: This study demonstrates that negative transfer occurs for players transitioning from one game controller to another and that this is associated with reduction in subjective usability scores. This corroborates previous data that the expectation of negative transfer may be a primary barrier to adoption of new gaming systems.

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The Role of Negative Transfer in Adoption of Videogame Controllers

Background: Historically, videogame controllers have been designed in a heavily iterative manner. While new functions are added to controllers with relative frequency, the layout of controllers has not radically changed in over 20 years. Part of this lack of change may be due to an expectation of negative transfer, which users have consistently cited as a barrier to adoption of new gaming technology. Negative transfer is defined as interference of previously learned skills upon learning skills in a new environment.

Method: In order to test negative transfer caused by the introduction of a new design of controller, participants were asked to use the Steam Controller, a new PC-based game controller which makes several significant departures from previous control-design hallmarks, to play a videogame called “Press X to Not Die.” Players completed a 30 minute playthrough of the game using the Steam controller in which their errors were recorded, and completed a short gaming history and subjective usability questionnaire.

Results: In-game errors were positively correlated with previous experience with other controllers. Additionally, players with higher levels of experience using other controllers were more likely to suffer failures due to response timeout. Finally, subjective usability scores were negatively correlated with previous controller experience.

Discussion: This study demonstrates that negative transfer occurs for players transitioning from one game controller to another and that this is associated with reduction in subjective usability scores. This corroborates previous data that the expectation of negative transfer may be a primary barrier to adoption of new gaming systems.