Playability in Action Videogames: A Qualitative Design Model

Carlo Fabricatore, Miguel Nussbaum, Ricardo Rosas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


In the 1990s, the videogame industry has managed to become the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry in America. However, only a very low number of videogame products manage to cover the costs of production and generate earnings. According to traditional marketing wisdom, players' preferences are a core issue in creating successful products, and the game design process is crucial for guaranteeing players' satisfaction.

Then, an important question arises: What do players want in videogames?

The purpose of this work is to propose a game design reference that directly mirrors players' preference, shaped as a qualitative model based on empirical data gathered during playing sessions. The model describes the main elements that, according to players' opinions, determine the playability of action videogames; the model proposes design guidelines that are the conceptualization of players' preferences. Therefore, the model helps game designers to understand the elements that must be dealt with to make better games.

Besides the operational relevance of the model, the research methodology described in this work is an example of how a qualitative approach such as the grounded theory paradigm can be applied to solve a software specification problem directly focusing on end-users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-368
Number of pages58
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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