Playability heuristics

Method suitability

Study type

Field studies
XLab studies
Online studies

Development phase

XEarly prototypes
XFunctional prototypes
XProducts on market

Studied period of experience

XBefore usage
XAn episode
Long-term UX

Evaluator / Info provider

XUX experts
One user at a time
Groups of users
Pairs of users




Web services
PC software
Mobile software
Hardware designs
XOther: Games / on different platforms


Trained researcher
Special equipment


Playability heuristics evaluate the playability aspect within games. Apart from usability problems, the heuristics can reveal the experiential aspects of game play.


Based on the application to be evaluated, the heuristics can be applied in a typical expert evaluation session. No specific knowledge from the researcher is needed, no specific equipment. Expert evaluators should be familiar with the heuristics (which can be distributed beforehand). The evaluation session itself takes about 1-1,5 hour.


Cheap and fast method; Easy to apply in an early development stage; Some sets of playability heuristics freely accessible (through papers); Applicable for games, mobile games, networked multiplayer games. The heuristics can be applied in a early development phase, as well as in a later more mature phase.


Focus limited on games.

References describing the method

1. Pinelle, D., Wong, N., and Stach, T. 2008. Heuristic evaluation for games: usability principles for video game design. In Proceeding of the Twenty-Sixth Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05 - 10, 2008). CHI '08. ACM, New York, NY, 1453-1462. DOI=
2. Desurvire, H., Caplan, M., and Toth, J. A. 2004. Using heuristics to evaluate the playability of games. In CHI '04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Vienna, Austria, April 24 - 29, 2004). CHI '04. ACM, New York, NY, 1509-1512. DOI=
3. Korhonen, H. and Koivisto, E. M. 2007. Playability heuristics for mobile multi-player games. In Proceedings of the 2nd international Conference on Digital interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts (Perth, Australia, September 19 - 21, 2007). DIMEA '07, vol. 274. ACM, New York, NY, 28-35. DOI=
4. Korhonen, H. and Koivisto, E. M. 2006. Playability heuristics for mobile games. In Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Human-Computer interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (Helsinki, Finland, September 12 - 15, 2006). MobileHCI '06, vol. 159. ACM, New York, NY, 9-16. DOI=
5. Pinelle, D., Wong, N., Stach, T., and Gutwin, C. 2009. Usability heuristics for networked multiplayer games. In Proceedings of the ACM 2009 international Conference on Supporting Group Work (Sanibel Island, Florida, USA, May 10 - 13, 2009). GROUP '09. ACM, New York, NY, 169-178. DOI=

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