Faculty Publication: Jamie May, Professional and Technical Writing Program

Jamie May

May, Jamie. 2019. "YouTube Gamers and Think-Aloud Protocols: Introducing Usability Testing." IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 62 (1): 94-103.

Article's Abstract

Background:Recordings of gamers interacting with video games have become a mainstay of online video-sharing communities such as YouTube. Sometimes called Let's Play videos, those recordings include content relatable to usability testing sessions and potentially illustrate basic think-aloud protocols.Literature review:Research regarding think-aloud protocols indicates that the use of video to review concurrent user commentary is a valid usability testing technique, including sessions that include little to no tester instruction or intervention. Evaluation using a heuristic created for the studied interface can support this type of usability testing.Research questions:1. Based on a heuristic created from video game usability research, do Let's Play videos provide content representative of think-aloud protocols regarding usability of the games played? 2. Are relevant Let's Play videos potentially useful tools for illustrating think-aloud protocols to students unfamiliar with this type of usability testing?Methods:After reviewing research concerning video game heuristics to create a common set of guidelines, the author selected and reviewed five YouTube videos, gathering and coding information related to the heuristic.Results:The recordings were found to contain relevant information regarding video game usability based on the criteria developed from the literature, specifically considering verbalizations relative to think-aloud protocols.Conclusion:Because these gaming videos contain commentary measurable against a research-based heuristic for game usability, they could be used as an additional method to introduce think-aloud protocols to usability students.

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