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Swipe This!: The Guide to Great Touchscreen Game Design by Scott Rogers

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Chapter 3: Finger Fu!

9781119940531-co0301.eps

I’ve found that game designers think a lot about how their games are going to play, but don’t always think about how their games are going to be played. Although it’s a subtle difference, it’s an important one to consider when designing touchscreen games. As fingers and hands are integral to playing a touchscreen game, how you want your game to be played is one of the first things you should decide. In order to do that, you need to know about ergonomics.

Ergonomics (n): The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

Ergonomics’ most important contribution to humanity is U.S. patent #5,566,997: little corn-cob-shaped skewers that prevent your hands from getting buttery. Ergonomics’ second most important contribution is assisting developers in creating awesome touchscreen gameplay design. The correct use of ergonomics can influence your controls, user interface (UI) design, and game length as well as your gameplay design. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that ergonomics can be critical to the successful design of a handheld game. Raise your hand if you know what stands (well, flops) in the way of that success?

Exactly! Your hand is the enemy! Wait! Stop! Don’t lop off your hands! You will still need them later. Right now, I want you to look at your hand. Right ...

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