UX lessons learned from Demoing

I’ve done a reasonable amount of demoing VR to #Vrgins at different events, individually, etc. It’s always interesting to see the reactions of someone who’s a first time user, but yesterday I discovered some new and interesting information, as someone who thinks a lot about UX, and how we train our brains to find certain things intuitive or not.

I was helping http://svvr.com demo at the Maker Faire yesterday. Mostly the aim was not to demo a specific game, but rather a variety of great 5 minute experiences on the HTC Vive. We had a lot of people mostly trying Tilt Brush, Job Simulator and Space Pirate Trainer, with a few other things in there like The Lab.

We also had a fair number of children under 10 trying out VR for the first time – yes, I’m aware of the guidelines, but we were very careful about safety monitoring, and parents were present for the entirety of the demo experience, plus the children were in there for under 5 minutes.

The interesting thing I noticed though, with those under 10s, was a very specific learned behavior. When using Tilt Brush, your primary mode of action is the trigger on the controller – for which you use your index finger. You change menu by using the thumb touchpad on your non drawing hand to swipe around and see the different menu panels. Selecting a tool is done by pointing the controller at the tool you want, and again using the trigger on the other hand to select.  Pretty intuitive for those of us who have grown up using a mouse.


Not so for the under 10’s. Every one of them had the same instinctive behavior – to use the thumb pad on the opposite hand as a button when they wanted to select a tool from the palette. No matter how many times I said trigger, showed them where it was, even helped them pull the trigger, they still kept trying to use the thumb track pad as their selection mechanism.  This wasn’t the case when they were painting, however, then, they quickly got the trigger being the paint. My conclusion is that they’re just hardwired to use their thumbs to control things when there’s something available – because they’ve grown up playing with smart phones and tablets, where generally, you’re using your thumbs to do almost every action. We’ve literally raised a generation whose basic, instinctive, technological interaction model is different than our own. And that’s fascinating to me.

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