World of Warcraft is considered the most popular and user-friendly MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game). With millions of people playing it, myself included, I decided it would be a good technology to make a cognitive account of.
Attention: So, when you start up the game for the first time, what grabs your attention the most? The picture to the right is what you initially see. When you first start off, the screen is pretty clear. The first thing that catches my eye is the blinking ! marks near the bottom of the screen. These give you helpful tips to teach you how to play. The minimap in the upper right corner, another useful tool in the game, also catches my eye. The game is very good at giving you visual cues to help you along, showing you where to go, who to talk to, and what to do.
Perception: World of Warcraft relies heavily on icons to convey meanings. The second screenshot is of a more established character. You can see that the screen is alot more cluttered with icons that represent skills, equipment, food, etc. Almost everything in World of Warcraft has its own recognizable icon. This can, at times, be a little taxing on a player because, let’s face it, it’s a bit cluttered. Sound also plays a huge role in a player’s perception. Every skill has a unique sound when used and it’s pretty obvious by the sounds when you’re being attacked.
Memory: This game is very good about not overloading a new player with information. It gradually hands you new skills and abilities. It gives you enough time to play around with the skills you have before it adds one or two more. The interface also promotes recognition through the use of consistently placed things, like a ! above questgivers’ heads, familiar town features like an inn in every town, and colors over different types of player’s heads (green for friendly, red for hostile).
Learning: World of Warcraft encourages learning through exploration, but the interface doesn’t really constrain new users to guide them correctly. The game’s very open-ended. Beyond only having a select set of skills at the beginning, you’re free to go wherever you please and do whatever you want. You’ll do most of your learning through reading and experiencing. Every icon, when scrolled over, tells you about that specific item/skill and what you need in order to use it. Clicking on the icon itself and putting its text to use though is where you really learn.
Problem Solving/Decision-Making: World of Warcraft itself doesn’t make it very easy to solve the game’s problems. This, however, is where the game’s community steps in. There are various websites dedicated to help those that have trouble in the game, detailing every aspect of how to do, well, pretty much everything. Any faults that players find in the game’s interface have also been addressed by the players themselves through the use of player-made additions to the game, such as an in-game bar that displays various information for you or a gadget that swaps your equipment for you.