“The jury were impressed to see the OUYA team deliver an affordable gaming product that challenges the closed nature and high development costs of the console gaming industry. It is our hope that this product will open up the potential for individuals and small companies to create innovative games that move the industry beyond its established genres.
It will be interesting to see games that are normally played in the ‘bubble’ of a smart phone, being placed into the social context the TV screen. It is also great to see the vote of confidence the product received from its overwhelming kickstarter response and we wish the team all the best in talking their product forward.”
Ouya is a new company and offering in the gaming industry, bringing open source gaming directly to your TV and disrupting a market dominated by established tech giants. This strategy has established OUYA as a strong new brand that responds to and reflects the passion and creativity of the community that helped to build it.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Differentiation within marketplace: OUYA has to exist as both the “people’s console” and as a viable competitor to the existing premium offerings in the market. While the need to be different and indie is central to OUYA’s brand character, it should never feel out of place alongside the likes of XBox and PlayStation. Ease of Use: In order to ensure that the adoption of this brand new experience is as seamless as possible, the user interface needs to feel familiar enough while still pushing and evolving the current paradigms of gaming. We needed to create something fresh and new to the industry, while creating recognizable touch points that consumers can immediately relate to. Truly Open Platform: As being an open source gaming platform is central to what Ouya is, the interface needed to embody this, both in look and practice. The graphics, color scheme and typography all needed to reflect Ouya as a new and open gaming experience, while we needed to provide open access to developers and gamers to expand, add to and improve the interface and gaming experience for all.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
One of the most important aspects of our design process was how to develop Ouya as a cohesive brand experience; instead of tackling each piece (hardware, UI, packaging, etc) as individual pieces, we wanted to treat them as parts of the whole. As a newcomer to the market, we believed OUYA needed to make sure the brand DNA remained consistent across all touch points. The interface needs to feel as much a part of the whole product as the hardware or packaging, integrating essential brand elements throughout the experience. This would both make the experience simple yet rich for new adopters, and establish a strong market presence right off the bat.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
After the initial Kickstarter success of OUYA, the time came to take the insight and input from over 63,000 backers and create a truly unique and expressive gaming experience across the board. To do this, we had to consider many different components throughout the design process: SPEAKING TO GAMERS We spoke to gamers of all different ages and from many different cultures, both online and in person to learn about the existing indie game community, their passions, beliefs and needs. As this is the audience that had backed the company from the start and would own the system ultimately, understanding their needs and incorporating their feedback was essential to the process. REACHING OUT TO DEVELOPERS Working with OUYA, we reached out to game developers – both those who were building indie games and those who were not, to find out what was important to them and what drives their choice of development platform. Just as with the gamers, we needed to know what developers require from their platforms to ensure Ouya’s success. To develop the interface for Ouya, we collaborated closely with both our experience designers and in-house prototype and animation group. The ability to quickly prototype and test each iteration throughout the process was essential. The speed with which we could test and feedback on the experience made the design process much more effective. The visual and interaction designers would sketch the concepts and the team would then create both motion studies and working prototypes in Adobe Air and HTML5. This allowed us to quickly validate our designs by testing ideas in real-time for key user flows.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The OUYA UI is at once simple and bold, standing apart from competitors while clearly communicating what OUYA is all about: individuality, openness and fun. The unique movement of the navigation and the bold use of type works to make the experience clear.. The experience employs horizontal parallax scrolling in homage to classic games. While working to create a sense of depth, the movement brings distinction to the medium. This type of navigation is not traditionally used in interfaces, but its roots in gaming history make it familiar. It immediately feels like a return to something great, to the essence of gaming that has been diluted with the bigger systems. The interface is more graphically dynamic than its competitors, and its prominent typography serves as a visual compass. The lack of excessive iconography works to create a clean and simple experience, while the color scheme is purposefully different than others on the market. The OUYA interface was created with simplicity in mind, so that the user is never far from the main menu. There is no labyrinth to overcome as everything is placed on a horizontal plane in linear succession, requiring the user to move only left or right to go backwards or forwards. From the user experience through the gamer’s interaction with the physical components, OUYA succeeds as a holistic experience. As with the OUYA hardware and packaging, the UI’s main focus is reducing clutter and ease of use, through intuitiveness, simple gestures and the removal of unnecessary details.