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Activision is a world leader in developing, publishing and distributing interactive entertainment. The company headquarters also happen to be in Santa Monica!

Santa Monica College IxD Students engaging with industry
Gather Insights (retro)

In this final phase, each team was asked to take a step back and reflect back on what they learned throughout the design challenge.  These insights reflect some of the most common pain points for Call of Duty users in this study as well as future areas of research for the Activision team.

Friends: Player Ratings
Ava Arshadi
Gizelle Hurtado
Christian Enriquez
Ralph Buan

Matchmaking using roles and traits leads to better communication among teams

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Upon getting matched with random players in Warzone, I never know whether or not we’ll play well together as a team. This lack of information about other players can make it difficult for me to find the right type of people to play and successfully communicate with mainly because of the varying, and often conflicting, play styles of Call of Duty players.I wish there was a way to get matched with players that have certain traits or roles of my choosing so that we can have better success and more fun together as a team.

Players gravitate toward certain roles and playing styles

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Players tend to gravitate toward certain roles when placed in a team; Some are natural leaders that like to direct and strategize while others enjoy more of a supportive position. There’s no way for me to know what role the other players in my team prefer unless I ask them directly, making it cumbersome to coordinate and plan for success. I’d like to be able to see what roles my teammates prefer and are good at so that I can adjust my playing style to compliment theirs.

Female gamers have become used to constant harassment and feels it’s pointless to report

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As a female COD player, harassment by other male players is so common that I’ve almost become used to it. I don’t report or flag these toxic players because of how normalized and glorified this behavior has become, making me believe that it would be pointless to do so. If I report someone for toxic behavior, I’d like to be able to see a direct consequence from this action so I know that I’m being heard.
Squads: Improving Squads
Omzee Pitchford
Julia Engfer
Gabriela Castro
Armel Patanian
Casey Montz

Gamers who are very invested in a game display a lack of interest in personal player information that is not game-related.

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Core players are core players because they take the game seriously. Their investment is in the game. For that reason, when presented with the opportunity to incorporate their non-gaming identities into the gaming experience, they are reluctant or resistant to do so. It may be that the game is a form of escape for them that all but requires separation from the external. However, it may also be true that their in-game identities were built up around the opportunities that existed for them. This might have implications related to both the core players and more casual players, alike. It is worth exploring whether providing opportunities for more personal engagement would lead to a new type of core player over time. It is also worth trying to understand how best to have the discussions with the more casual players for learning about their engagement and motivations. It may be interesting to open up this dialogue from the very outset of their engagement with a game.

Players need more creative strategies and attractive rewards to justify the completion of weekly challenges.

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Our research has shown that players found the weekly challenges to be repetitive and lacking in attractive rewards to motivate the players to complete them. We also found that players like to play Call of Duty with their friends. We see an opportunity in combining a player characteristic with a need to improve a feature of the game. Creating more interesting and compelling rewards for challenges motivates casual gamers to come back to interact with weekly challenges. Moreover, having challenges to complete with friends/ other players would increase the amount of time that people use the companion app. This is a design opportunity we wish we had more time to explore. The user wants an environment that they are motivated to come back to, they want to gain something for themselves and that would be rewards that are earned by completing challenges.

People who are passionate about a subject (video games), will want to talk more and more about their passion.

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From usability testing, I found that people that are passionate about Call of Duty will want to dive deep in a conversation with you. They will want to talk about weapon choice, strategy, and kill ratio. People that are passionate about Call of Duty keep Call of Duty alive. How can passionate video game players bring leverage to Call of Duty? I find that the root of passion in gamers stems from an eager admiration that is sometimes uncontrollable. What causes an inexperienced gamer to lack the passion that experienced gamers have in relation to a specific game (COD)? I wish there was a way for passionate gamers to offer mentorship to less-experienced players in order to improve the transitioning phase that newer gamers experience when onboarding an unfamiliar game.
Video as a Resource
William Gamez
Ami Kubota
Genevieve Johnson
Ross Meredith

COD Store Spending: fighting the guilt

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“Spending money on gun skins at the COD store brings attention from my online friends in the game. I like flexing my skins. When I spend too much money, though, I have buyer's remorse and feel ashamed because I have trouble justifying my purchases to my spouse. I wish I could earn "shame-free" rewards based on my gameplay conquests.”

Tutorial Videos: monkey see, monkey do

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“I like learning about weapons because that can improve my gameplay performance. I heard that COD App is great to check Stats, but I am not really interested in Stats because I just want to play for fun. Customizing guns is cool because better loadout can make my experience more fun, but seeing Stats is kind of stressful and too serious to me. I wish the App went deep into weapons, maybe teaches me how to load out guns better, or I could watch someone’s gameplay. I can learn from how other people do it and try it myself.”

An Anti-Establishment Approach to Videos: Discover the unknown and bigger Isn’t Better

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Discover the unknown "I want to hear content from creators who offer different perspectives to the game that isn’t the typical person screaming over game play or some youtube personality, I’ve already seen that kind of content. All of the Call of Duty content I find is the same or from some big creator on Youtube, they are all bought and sold, I don't know what I can trust from them. I want to find a new streamer to subscribe to, someone who gives detailed load out info, and plays in a style like mine without any of the big budget or sponsorships I know can affect their content." Supporting Small Video Creators “As a passionate individual gamer myself, I’m invested in the growth of relatively unknown video creators. I don’t subscribe to the idea that a bigger name equates higher quality, and I would hate for the COD companion app to quash great videos for the sake of promoting their brand. I want for this app to make a platform where I can discover and support small video creators.”
Onboarding
Di Xu
Chase Nguyen
Marcelo Layera
Aaron Guhin

Players/gamers use third party apps for communication and scheduling instead of in-game options

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Social gaming naturally requires different methods of communication. Gamers use third party apps, such as Discord or Reddit, to not only help them with the game and also to invite people to play games with them. These other platforms help to extend the playerbase to other groups and circles of friends due to being platform agnostic and offering a more reliable hub for those seeking other gamers, as well as many additional features to supplement online communication such as private rooms or voice modulation. How might we get different people from different places who are like-minded to be able to play together and therefore expand the social affordances that a multiplayer game can have for its player base? For example, there are girl groups who defy the notion that only boys play games, so they get together, create a squad of womxn from all over, host sessions, schedule sessions, and play together all using third-party apps.

Women are invisible players until they are in supportive communities.

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Women Call of Duty players enjoy the game as much as men do, and are just as competitive. However, women often experience gatekeeping, such as male players harassing female players enough to no longer participate. Gaming communities still maintain a male-dominated culture that tolerates, which can encourage toxic behavior by men towards women. Women tend to tolerate it and become silent and invisible until they are in supportive communities that they have created with clear rules and moderation against harassment. I wish there is a way for women to create their own supportive communities within Call of Duty, playing together with their friends, and enjoying the game without having to face negativity from other players alone, which can be scary and extremely demotivating.

Players prefer to control the circumstances regarding when they encounter randoms

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Players enjoy playing online with others—and some gamers really enjoy playing games with strangers, as it improves their social experience in the game. Unfortunately, this positive social experience can be tarnished by toxic, overly competitive players or players with different goals, who might not work collaboratively. I wish there was a way players can have more agency over the type of players they interact with and foster a more positive online social experience.