Activision's Call of Duty Companion App team approached our classroom for Interaction Design and challenged students to consider how can Call of Duty companion app create social features that keep players engaged with the game and each other.
The problem that keeps players, especially female players away from being socially engaged with the app is the toxic culture that prevails in the Call of Duty player community.
The concept I proposed to this problem includes suggestions that would involve organizational change at Activision, as well as a range of considerations when designing a companion app. The solution to a systematic problem involves a solution that could be implemented at the level of the companion app: making it more accessible to both active and inactive players, and advertising of career opportunities within Activision form within the Companion app.
User Research, UI Design
(Comparative and Heuristic Analysis done in collaboration with Gabriela Castro)
Figma, Premiere Pro
I thought I wouldn't like this game, since the only FPS game I played before was resistance on PS3, which was shooting aliens. So shooting people seems too much. However when you think of it, it was similarly gore-y so it's not really that different because the more I play this game, the more I stop seeing the people as "people" but more as robots of other players because they are all the same, and the characters revive after each game, there is not a sadness associated with your favorite character dying in a TV series. What turns me off still about the aesthetic of the game is that it's just too real, and it can be depressing because it makes me think of war in real life. I'm sad every time I see the poor robots get dropped from the plane because they are all going to die. That being said, I did actually enjoy playing it with other classmates because we can plan strategies together and it could be very collaborative. The experience of getting the game to work is not great because I have to use a PC. It took me months to get a PC ready and actually install the game. For some reason this game takes days to download. And then on-boarding of trying to get an account is also not the best. It was fairly confusing as there is the Blizzard account, and there are other accounts, so I don't actually know what I was doing I just wanted it to be done. There were so many pages of text and agreements. The game itself is a much better experience than getting the game to work. Within the game, there are three trials that I can do to learn how to play the game, but they were not sufficient in learning how to play the game. I did not understand at all what was going on the first time I played the battle Royale. However, the voice guide and details in the game made it kind of okay to figure out what is going on. The game works fine and the details of the buildings etc in the map are beautiful.
I played COD with Armel and Porfirio. I just wanted a break so I logged on to COD. I see that Armel is online on Discord, so I sent him a message to join. I wanted to play some mini games to practice shooting while waiting for Armel because I just wanted to feel more “flow” instead of getting a solo Warzone game started because I might get too focused and not see that Armel is ready to join. I tried to find the mini games and they are gone! The mini games are not there anymore because it was a summer event… now I didn’t know what to do so I started looking at the guns in the loadout, but am getting very confused. I used to use the mini games to try out the different guns to see what they do, but now I’m just reading some statistics that mean nothing to me. Once Armel came online, Portfolio came along too. I joined the team and played a really fun game together. I think we did really well and were able to collaborate even though Porfilio didn’t have a functioning mic.
This week I went to visit Chase and I played COD on the playstation with him. It is much harder to play COD on playstation because I haven’t touched a playstation controller in 10 years. I got used to it pretty quickly, but I still couldn't manage to do any damage in the game. Chase and Christian did much better in the game than I did. I think it’s because I don’t actively practice doing it very much. We turned off the voice chat in the playstation immediately after we went in since it was just too much chaos to hear anything useful.
This week I played COD on mobile. I downloaded the COD game mobile, and opened it up. It took a minute to download onto my android pixel 1 phone which is an old phone, however it opened up quickly. Once I’m in the game, I’m immediately in an onboarding tutorial. The tutorial was really well made and I understood immediately what to do. The game is more like multiplayer of 5 v 5 like on playstation. I liked onboarding a lot and I even learned things I could use in the PC game. However, the multiplayer game is really easy, I guess it’s because I was matched with other people who are very low-level like me. It was not very satisfying to win since I was not playing with skilled players.
What to learn:
What do women players think of Call of Duty?
What drives non-males away from Call of Duty?
What would make women want to play Call of Duty?
What do women think of gaming?
Where do women find community in gaming and keep updated?
What motivates women to play games?
How do women find out about what to play?
What do women want to do on mobile that would relate to the games they play?
producer at riot games legends on rune terra.
1. Introduction, Context Setting, Rules
How are you doing today? Thank you for taking time doing this with me today. This interview is going to last around 15-30 minutes. You can stop at any point. Do I have permission to record for my own notes?
2. Background Questions
What types of games do you play? (2)
Could you describe to me a day when you would play ___ (game).
(Same but for another game).
How do you find out about new games that you want to play?
Do you play games with other people?
(if yes) How do you find people to play games with you?
(if no) Why not?
Why do you play games?
How do you improve your skills in a game?
3. Specific Questions
What comes to mind when you think of female gamers?
What comes to mind when you think of Call of Duty?
Have you played Call of Duty before?
(If have)What do you like about it, and not like about Call of Duty?
(if not have) Who do you think would play Call of Duty?
What changes need to happen for you to want to play Call of Duty?
Are you aware of the companion app?
Who do you think the companion app is for?
What would make you purchase a new game?
Do you ever spend money in a game?
What type of things would you spend money on?
Users should be able to access many functions of the Call of Duty app before logging in.
In this app, players and non-players alike would be able to engage with Call of Duty's marketing.
The inclusion and highlight of ESports with Call of Duty will hopefully increase the accessibility of the game. Players who previously played can still enjoy the game even if they cannot play anymore.
Through marketing efforts that highlight the points of progress in the Call of Duty community makes it clear that Activision is taking a stance against toxicity. Promoting the communities that support players and cultivate a safe and fun gaming atmosphere for all players.
One root cause of toxic community in gaming is the lack of diversity in the hiring process of gaming companies. Many game developers still think women do not play games. This is a misconception. Creating a platform for hiring that is transparent and easy to use will help.
Support system already exists for gamers. Call of Duty companion app could highlight these resources, making them easily accessible.
The easiest thing that makes the social experience better for women and minorities is to create a blocking feature.
With feedback from stakeholders, I understood that some of the concepts I proposed were unfortunately not within the purpose of the companion app, and needs to be more an initiative from the Activision company than the companion app in terms of implementation. However, the support for female gamers is something that is being discussed.
Assuming the concepts I've shown here allow a better experience for female gamers, I did not outline how these gamers would discover the app. It is useless to have great content within an app if the users are not able to discover the app itself in the first place. In going forward with this project, I will consider outlining the journey of a specific user, and solving the problems of discover, use, and loyalty along the way.
The process of research and understanding the problem of the experience of marginalized groups in gaming is a sobering experience. From the stories I've heard, the articles I read, the situation is much more dreadful than I previously thought. So many of these stories had my blood boiling. I can see how some designers might be scared off from tackling this problem, because it seems so tangled, and seems more like a social issue than a design issue, without clean, straightforward answers to solve it. However, I think design problems are intimately connected with social problems. We cannot responsibly talk about design without addressing ethics, and social consequences of these designs. Problems should not be ignored just because they are difficult to solve. The players have been telling us about their experiences for a long time and voicing their concerns very loudly, but so many have refused to listen. If there are designers and researcher in the room will not advocate for the players who are marginalized by the community of current player of our product, then who will?