Designing Learning Games for Multiple Devices

For many of us, a smart phone is the last object we touch before we go to bed… and the first object we grab in the morning. We’re on the go… and sending out a few emails on a tablet over lunch is, well, normal.

RJ Jacquez points out that we should be designing for all devices and we agree. Our primary computers are no longer at a desk, but rather at our fingertips. Tablets and smartphones are becoming more popular and for many of us are the primary method of communication and access to internet. Our lives are increasingly mobile, so our design should reflect that.

At BLP we design for multiple devices.

At BLP we design for multiple devices, and test with Adobe Edge Inspect.

One of the big drivers behind the design and development of our Knowledge Guru learning game engine was to make a learning game that would work in every browser… and on every tablet. What good is having a mobile app version of your learning if learners can’t start play on a desktop and finish on a tablet?  The experience must be seamless, data must transfer, and you must make it as easy as possible for your learners to REALLY have fun and maximize their learning. Designing for multiscreen is really about removing unnecessary road blocks. Universal design is more important than ever in an era of information overload and increased cognitive strain on our knowledge workers. Here are 3 things to consider when designing for multiple devices.

1. Don’t leave devices out

Stellar design and ease of use across multiple devices takes center stage. That’s why Knowledge Guru works just as well on an iPad as it does in Internet Explorer. That is not always easy to do for a developer, but it is worth it for the learner…and the client. It’s important to keep in mind that not every employee at every company has the same technology available to them. At our office, for example, we have a pretty good mix of Macs, PCs, and tablets. Creating a game only compatible with an Android tablet would leave the rest of us feeling left out.

2. Know device Limitations

It’s also important to keep in mind other factors when designing a game for multiple devices, like the limitations of the different devices. For example, if you want to incorporate a rollover effect in your game, it might work well with a mouse or a trackpad, but consider how that might work with a touchscreen tablet. Buttons that might seem large enough for a mouse to click may be too small for a finger to tap. Using too much audio or video may suck the battery life more quickly out of certain devices. If the learning game requires typing or the functionality of a keyboard, you might think twice – its difficult to squeeze a keyboard onto the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones along with game content.

Native apps allow for use even in areas without the internet.

Native apps allow for use even in areas without the internet.

3. The Myth of Wifi Availability

It’s also a bit of a myth that fast, reliable WiFi is ubiquitous. What about workers that are frequently on the road? What about rural areas where internet is not always easy to come by? That’s why we also developed Knowledge Guru as a native iOS app for the iPad. It’s a little bit quicker, a little bit more responsive, and only needs to sync data to the cloud when you have an internet connection. It was a necessity for us to offer the native option to our clients. Our Technology Director, Brandon Penticuff, weighed in on the matter:

“Often times a native app can provide a better experience because an internet connection isn’t required.”

It’s important to consider where your users are going to be using your product and if they will have access to the web.

Ultimately, designing a cross-platform game is good for both the client and creator. It provides the convenience your client needs when distributing a game to a group of employees with a wide variety of tech devices, but as a creator it also expands your field of users, making your product more marketable and desirable. Designing learning games for multiple devices is a natural transition as learning becomes less stationary and more mobile.