Contextual Inquiry-Group:Group H

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Group H member contributions

  • Jessica Cen: developed sketches for various application views.
  • Long Do: interviewed four card enthusiasts and watched them perform in a natural setting.
  • Darren Kwong: developed scenarios and interface design.
  • Dan Lynch: interviewed a poker group that regularly plays on a weekly basis.

Problem and Solution Overview

Various factors can prevent card enthusiasts from playing card games or improving their skills. Perhaps they have financial issues, the local competition is not enough, or there simply isn't anyone around when they have an urge to play. This application aims to solve these issues by connecting card enthusiasts in a social card game network that allows them to play any card game at anytime with people around the world.

Contextual inquiry interview

Description of users

We interviewed a group of four and a group of eight card players.

The group of eight was a poker group consisting of hard-core players who play every week.

The other interview had John, James, Tony, and Bob*. John, James, and Tony are college students, though not at UC Berkeley; Tony is an employed man in his late twenties. John and James are close friends who have been playing frequently since middle school and prefer poker and Texas hold'em as their favorite card games and both meet up with a group to player poker weekly. Tony likes to play blackjack at casinos or poker as long as there is real money involved. Bob mostly plays Big 2, a popular Asian card game, but also has played poker and Blackjack.

These users were chosen because they fit the target user group of card enthusiasts and gamblers who frequently play multi-player card games such as poker and blackjack.

*Not actual names.

Interview Description

For the eight person group, we observed a full-on card game, while being a participant. Towards the end of the game, an experiment was done to simulate what a game would be like if everyone had the app on their iPhones. Luckily, about 7 out of 8 people had iPhones at the card game.

For the four person group, we observed the subjects as they played several different types of card games (including Big 2, blackjack, and poker and some variants) for almost two hours. As the group played, we asked questions about why they took certain actions and if they wanted some action translated onto an app and how would they prefer it. We also talked to them one-on-one while they were doing their tasks to see how different users might have different expectations.

Task analysis questions

Who is going to use system? Card enthusiasts and gamblers who like to have many friends who also play cards.

What tasks do they now perform? These users need to make money and generate income. While playing, they use chips in place for money. They have many card gestures for certain actions, for example, tapping the deck to "hit me" in 21, or the blackjack peek. Users shuffle the deck and sometimes exchange cards and show their hands. The users have to contact one another through some communication line and find an appointed time that would be most suitable for the majority of the group so that they can meet and have a card game. The card game will last for as long as there is enough people who are willing to play and stay in this one defined area. Other users might go to a casino or other card playing arenas to play against strangers.

What are the desired tasks? Playing cards at anytime or anyplace against people that are both friends and strangers. In addition, it would be nice to play for fun and not money.

How are tasks learned? Through repetition, consequences, and negative reinforcement.

Where are the tasks performed? Somewhere comfortable: there should be food, bathroom, in a good place, with low stress conditions. At home, or in a casino, but usually indoors.

What's the relationship between the user and the data? The data is how they establish their primary goal (generating income). If they don't play the right cards, they cannot accomplish their goal. The data is also the organization of a card game and finding a solution to users' different, and possibly conflicting, schedules.

What other tools does the user have? online tools, online guides, stategy books, table, chips, deck of cards, money

How do users communicate with each other? Verbally across the table, naturally

How often are the tasks performed? Some users are regular performers and will go to a meeting once a week to play. Others are more infrequent and the number might lower to once a month or even whenever they have free time and the desire to do so. We are mainly targeting those users who perform the tasks at least once a week.

What are the time constraints on the tasks? none, except when its your turn

What happens when something goes wrong? Sometimes people take too long to decide on an action or perhaps they are preoccupied with something other task. If this occurs and the countdown timer ends, the players turn will be forfeited. If the user forfeits his turn due to the countdown timer more than 3 times, the computer will ask the table owner if the user should be removed from the table. If the user who is tardy is the table owner, the ownership of the table will be given to the next user and he will decided whether the previous table owner will remain.


  • If playing with people over bluetooth, it would be good to have an iPad in the center of the table for a display
  • natural communication is a must---voice recognition and transmission is important
  • Hard for expert to explain game logic to a beginner
  • blackjack player wants to double tap screen for hit me
  • speed players need piles of cards that they can draw from
  • some players worried about people taking too long for their turns.

During an inquiry we tried an experiment acting out a game of cards with the iPhones. It became apparent that when multiple players are playing in the same room, an iPad would work great for the cards on the table.

This interview gave us insight about how our app should focus on networking and being portable, and not for playing the game in person. We realized that the users would rather play with real cards if they are in the same physical vicinity. Also communication seemed to be a major key to the game---this gave our group insight into the importance of voice transmission for games over a network.

Analysis of tasks


  • Joining a random table. (level, number of players)

It is difficult if you cannot find anyone to play with close by. This, however, should come easy with our application.

  • Looking at your hand and/or manipulating your cards

This is a simple task during a real game, and will be just as simple in implementation.


  • Finding friends who are online and joining their table

This can be hard, you have to call friends or organize a poker game. In our app, you simply connect to the network and see which are your friends are playing.

  • User-created tables and preferences to set initial chips, cards/hand visibility, settings.

This is easy in person because you can describe the game to a newcomer. The application however, will allow for communication over the network which is a limitation compared to being in person. But, this difficultly will be offset, because all customs settings will be saved for later games in user profile.


  • Communicating with other players.

Communication is easy when in person. Our application will have voice/text chat capabilities to allow users to converse, but it will not be as natural, e.g. when explaining something.

  • Being the dealer.

In real life, you run the game and must pay attention to the table. In the app, its no different; your focus will have to be on the game and other users.

Interface design/Proposed Interface

Functionality summary

When you download the app and create an account you start with 10,000 dollars. You have a profile/reputation that is public and shows wins/losses. High scores can be stored in the form of dollars earned. Also everyday $100 is added to the account.


  • join tables
  • create tables and custom games (e.g. Texas Hold'em, BlackJack)
  • create rules for dealing (any cards missing from deck, etc)
  • create rules for tables (timeout, buy-in [amount of chips you must have], ante, etc.)
  • view tables
  • send messages (pre-defined or customized)
  • toggle between table view and hand view
  • play with other iPhone/iPod Touch users through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

Gestures for Interaction

  • tap cards in hand view to select card for play
  • double tap cards on table view to "hit me"
  • show your hand/throw all cards on the table
  • throw one card at a time onto the table
  • drag chips for betting by sliding finger
  • shake mobile device for shuffling cards

Main Menu View

  • links to Tables View
  • links to Contacts
  • change status between "online" or "offline"

File: main-menu.jpg

Contacts View

  • shows list of friends, online and offline
  • invite or join friends in a game
  • link to search for other players


Search Users View

  • allows you to find new friends and invite them to a game


Table View

  • shows all players and their game level
  • shows which players are currently available to play
  • allows interaction between players, sending messages, displays chips, etc
  • throw chips in the pot in card view
  • tapping your cards will get you a closer view of your hand
  • allows you to interact with your hand
  • displays money + ratio


Table List View

  • shows which tables are available to join
  • tables that are full or are currently inactive are not shown
  • user must tap on the table's name to join


Table Settings View

  • creates a new table
  • choose table type (poker, blackjack, and any existing card game). User can choose to create a new table type.
  • choose whether to make the table private
  • choose which cards to deal, and how many
  • max players
  • choose how much time each player's turn should last
  • set the buy in cost


User interface description and sketches

This is a very human-oriented, social application. A user can browse through a list of tables or start up a new one. They can browse their contacts and friends to see if anyone is playing a game or send an invite. The apple push notification service[1] allows users to stay up-to-date on their friends' card games, providing text messages for invites, even when the app is not running.

Below is a state diagram that demonstrates the "transparency" of the application--the user may be apart of the game even if they have to make a phone call--emphasis is placed on saving state. That is why the "application not running" is actually a part of the application's states. This keeps continuity between games and tables, as well as the social aspects of the application.

Three scenarios of example tasks with sketches

  • Scenario 1

James, excited about his weekly poker game, suddenly finds out he has to babysit his little sister. He tells his poker group to play remotely on their iPods. He logins onto the network at 8pm, creates a table and invites his group. James forgot to order pizza, so he navigates out of the application, makes a phone call for a large pepperoni. During the call he gets a notification that four people have joined the table. After finishing the call, he logs back into the game which brings him directly to the table with his friends.


  • Scenario 2

Sally can't sleep and decides to peruse the her friends list to see if anyone is logged on. She clicks on James, who is also online, and sees that he is at a blackjack table; she joins the table.


  • Scenario 3

George just got kicked out of a casino because he lost all of his money, but he still wants to play poker. He loads up the app, and goes to the list of available tables and joins the one with the most people and continues to feed his addiction, but without having to worry about losing his money.


Analysis of Approach

Our application will take advantage of the mobility and touchscreen of the iPhone/iPod touch. The mobility of the device will guarantee to the user connection with other players in the network at any time. The device's touch screen will give the user the ultimate card game experience, as if he/she is playing in a real setting. The user will be able to make real-based movements in the game, such as dragging chips to the pot by sliding a finger on the touchscreen.

Although playing in the same room and with the same physical deck of cards is the best way to communicate between players, our app is better in that the players can be anywhere they want. We aim to provide the user the best communication method when he/she needs to interact with other players. The best approach would be to enable sending instant messages during the game. However, this may prove difficult and distracting to the user while he/she is playing for the first time. We may also try to implement voice communication, but it may not be possible if the playing group is large because voice chat can only be used by two devices. Therefore, instant messages is the best way for communication if the people are physically distant from each other.

Back to the main Contextual Inquiry and Task Analysis page.

This page was created by Group H.

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