Helping tabletop gamers find stores and events near them
Wizards of the Coast is the publisher of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, two of the most famous names in tabletop gaming. A major part of their business model is getting gamers together in person to play, whether at local game stores, conventions, or other locations. They have a symbiotic relationship with the local game stores that carry their products, and want to ensure that fans can find local retail outlets to patronize. Finally, they have a series of organized events that occur throughout the year with professional leagues of gamers.
Although finding stores and events has always been important for Wizards’ customers, their existing solution was out of date from a technical and content standpoint, and difficult to use. I was hired as a UX consultant to assess the situation and come up with a solution.
My initial approach was a thorough analysis of the existing tool, as well as a series of interviews with game store owners and players. Once the core problems and opportunities were identified, I created and ran a workshop with the stakeholders at Wizards of the Coast. Crafting user personas as Dungeons & Dragons-style “character sheets,” we explored the possibilities for a new store and event locator. Together with a graphic designer from Hoverstate, I created a series of potential screens as a clickable prototype. Using the existing product and our clickable prototype, I then conducted a series of usability tests and in-depth interviews with real-world gamers.
The next stage was to use our findings to build out the product itself. One of the problems with the solution we were replacing was the quality of the listings. After analyzing various APIs available, I brought recommendations to the team and eventually chose to integrate Foursquare listings and data into our store & event locator, along with proprietary data from Wizards of the Coast. Finally, once the product was in a complete state, I traveled to a series of Magic: The Gathering tournaments to beta test with real players. We launched soon afterward, with some iteration, and a wealth of new insights to carry on into future products for Wizards of the Coast customers.