As UK gamers prepare for the launch of the Sony PSP, Serco Usability Services announces further research into handheld gaming devices.

The Sony PSP, Sony’s long-awaited handheld games device, launches today in the UK to sell out demand. Like the Nintendo DS, which was launched earlier this year, the PSP offers exciting game play possibilities including a high-resolution LCD screen, widescreen format and wireless connectivity. And the features don’t stop there; whilst the PSP is primarily designed for game play, users can also enjoy mp3 music files, videos and digital photos, making it one of the most comprehensive mobile devices on the market.

Serco Usability Services has led pioneering usability studies into the handheld gaming market and has worked alongside major games manufacturers developing applications. Recently they conducted independent research focussed on the game play functionality using a Sony PSP and other devices including the Nintendo DS, the Gizmondo and the Tapwave Zodiac. The objective of the research was to examine if there were usability issues with the additional features provided by these devices, and if this impacted the overall user experience. The findings of this research are summarized as a set of guidelines available at http://www.usability.serco.com/papers/Handheld_Gaming_Guide.pdf.

In response to the additional PSP functionality that Sony has announced, Serco have committed to an ongoing programme of research investigating potential usability issues. Director Owen Daly-Jones says,

These are exciting times in the mobile technology market, and Sony has upped the stakes with their latest developments. Introducing these new services with the backing of major entertainment companies will reassure consumers, and should ensure uptake. However, we want to understand is what these services will be like to use, and whether there are issues that designers should be taking into consideration.

The full results of the research will be published later on this year, but in the meantime interim results and news about further research can be viewed at http://www.usability.serco.com/papers/Handheld_Gaming_Guide.pdf.

About Serco Usability Services

Serco Usability Services has a 30-year history, it is the most experienced company in the UK usability industry and one of the most experienced in international usability. The company still employs founder members of the original team.

Serco Usability Services works with both public and private sector clients and across a wide range of technologies including websites, mobile applications, interactive TV and appliances. We employ world-recognised experts in usability and accessibility who regularly appear at industry events and remain at the cutting edge of best practice and research.

Serco Usability Services is a subsidiary of Serco Group (www.serco.com), a FTSE 250 company. As one of the world’s leading service companies Serco Group’s activities spread across a diverse range of activities and geographic markets around the world. They include managing research laboratories, operating the Docklands Light Railway in London and the Copenhagen Metro and operating air traffic control towers in the Middle East and across the USA.

Serco has grown rapidly since the management buyout of RCA Services Limited some 16 years ago. It currently employs around 40,000 people in the UK, continental Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia Pacific. Serco Group’s turnover was £1,637m for the year ending 31 December 2004.

For more information please contact:

Gemma Wisdom
Marketing Manager
Serco Usability Services
T: 020 7421 6499
E: gemma.wisdom@serco.com
www.usability.serco.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 1st September 2005