Mobile Game Design and Ergonomics: a necessary combination

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Wiliam Machado De Andrade

Abstract: Games for mobile phones constitute a fast-growing industry, with technologies and business models that explore their portability and facilitated access. The human factors on mobile playing did not follow such a development. With devices using touchscreens to control the game, usability ignored the ergonomics of holding and interacting with handheld narratives in opposition to video game console controllers. This article studies mobile gaming ergonomics to understand how playing with a handheld device changes body alignment, pondering whether game design can lead to or avoid postural injuries in the long term. While console and desktop computer gaming are likely to occur in controlled settings, mobile gaming can happen in varied places and situations. Some games demand players to hold their devices with a single hand, making it difficult to distribute the weight and adjust the grip. Playing while standing up may cause arm and wrist fatigue while gamers try to achieve better visualization. In addition, small onscreen content can also prompt neck stretching, altering the body's axis. Even though the current literature reveals some concerns regarding video games and ergonomics, they commonly focus on the players but not on the game content. Thinking about the latter, is it possible to plan the game to reduce the risk of injuries when playing with a handheld device? As a first step toward a potential answer, the research investigates (1) the body risks when holding a smartphone; and (2) some distinct game features from other mobile operations that can aggravate potential injuries. The conclusions suggest some approaches to game design to reduce the risks in the long term, also attempting to make part of further discussions on ergonomics to make mobile gaming safer for the body.

Keywords: Mobile games, game design, game ergonomics, smartphone risks, touchscreen ergonomics

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003861

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