Blindfold Racer: The Tutorial

We needed a tutorial at the beginning of the game to teach the game player how to control their car.

While using the tutorial (and the game) the screen is dark (empty), and the game player listens to instructions. The first tutorial we tried spent about 2 minutes describing how to control the car, then let the game player practice moving the steering wheel (rotate left and right) and the gas pedal (tilt forward and backwards), and then explained the rules of the game (about 2 more minutes).

I tested it with children from 3rd to 5th grade at the school summer camp, and about half the children were completely confused, and most were bored by the end. We had some of the students who helped design the game assist in the testing.

Initially, the tutorial spoke to you as you practiced. It would say “driving straight ahead” or “driving slow” or “too far back”. We tested twice a week, using the problems we found in prior testing to improve tutorial for the next testing. We tested over the course of 4 weeks, and improved the tutorial a lot, but it still was a painful experience for the game player.

The best games teach the game player “naturally” as they play, so we switched strategies. We changed the tutorial to be as brief as possible, and changed the first few levels to continue your training. By the time we were done, we reduced the tutorial from over 5 minutes to about 90 seconds, and the children really liked it.

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