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Old 11-21-2008, 08:43 AM   #1
jillduffy
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Default French Game Dev: ergonomist?

For anyone studying (or doing) game development in a French speaking country, what is meant by ergonomist?
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:53 AM   #2
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Is it different to an ergonomist in an English speaking country?
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:25 AM   #3
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Neither I nor my co-worker has heard this term. We were guessing it meant usability expert perhaps, or user interface designer (?).

Typically in the U.S., we use the word "ergonomic" to mean fitted to reduce or eliminate injury or stress, particularly office furniture. An ergonomic chair, for instance, is one that has a supportive back, adjustable arm rests, etc. I've never heard it used for game development before.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jillduffy View Post
I've never heard it used for game development before.
That's a good point. I don't know for certain where that term would be applied in game development. However, I can imagine how it could have something more to do with designing controllers for consoles or studying human-computer interaction.
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:01 PM   #5
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Obviously making games more comfortable . But I am gonna agree with Adrir that it is probably someone who specializes in controls.
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Old 12-10-2008, 07:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jillduffy View Post
Neither I nor my co-worker has heard this term. We were guessing it meant usability expert perhaps, or user interface designer (?).

Typically in the U.S., we use the word "ergonomic" to mean fitted to reduce or eliminate injury or stress, particularly office furniture. An ergonomic chair, for instance, is one that has a supportive back, adjustable arm rests, etc. I've never heard it used for game development before.
You guessed right!

It means the same thing in English than in French. I had a class on interface design. They use this term, ergonomy, as a metaphore to refer to a way of designing user-friendly interface for websites, for applications and, in extension, for video games. Two French authors, Dominic Scapin et de Christian Bastien, made this theory in Ergonomic Criteria for the Evaluation of Human-Computer interfaces, in 1993. It’s pretty close to heuristic evaluation principles from Jakob Nielsen (1990).

The criteria they defined are (it’s my translation):

- Guidelines: A user should always get feedbacks on his interactions with the system. He should always know where he is, where he can go and what he can do. The system should also incite properly the user to do specific actions.
- Work charge: The system should limit the density of information a user get at a time. Also, course of actions a user can do should be as brief and clear as possible.
- Explicit control: A user should always have an explicit control over the system. Everything she can do should be clear to her and she should always control in a way the information processed by the system (like saving her work in MS office).
- Adaptability: The system should be adaptable to the user experience. It’s all about interface customization.
- Error management: The user should be protected against errors and should have ways to correct them when they occur.
- Consistency and uniformity: All the parts of the interface should keep their place and should have the same style in identical information use context.

I don’t know if I’m clear, it is theory stuff.

So, knowing all that, an “Ergonomist” is indeed an interface specialist.

Last edited by Roxanne BP : 12-10-2008 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 12-10-2008, 07:43 AM   #7
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Thanks! That is really interesting.
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Old 12-10-2008, 02:23 PM   #8
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My pleasure!
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:25 PM   #9
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Currently studying in a Game School as a programmer in France, and working with students in Ergonomics, I can say that Roxanne BP is indeed right.

In video game specifically, ergonomy is a blend of Human-Computer Interfaces theories and Game Design. Ergonomists ensure that a game is designed around the player experience, using their background in cognitive psychology.

They are important in severals aspects of the game design including:
  • Improving feedbacks and interactions loops in the gameplay
  • Ensuring the quality of menus and interfaces
  • Writing tutorials
  • Conducting play test sessions

I hope this helps

Last edited by ika : 12-10-2008 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 12-10-2008, 06:32 PM   #10
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That sounds like a fun and useful job. I hope it becomes common enough in the industry that the complete lack of knowledge about it in this topic won't happen again.
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