Usability and Accessibility of Triple Town

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Triple Town app icon

With the capacity of today’s smartphones, it’s no wonder how people can easily have over 100 apps on their phones ranging from utilities (i.e. weather apps, maps, Google assistants) to social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to games. Living in New York City while waiting and taking public transportation you’ll see 70% of the travelers on their phones, either texting, watching videos, on social media, or playing games. Accessing videos or social media or even texting can get a little tricky when riding the subway — especially when you’ve hit the dead spots and you have no service. That’s why I often go to my offline games, especially the ones where I can always pick up where I left off like Triple Town — which I’ve played for years.

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Screenshots from the Apple Store for Triple Town

Triple Town is a mobile strategic single-player puzzle game created by Spry Fox released in 2012. The main goal of the game is to build a town by matching 3 or more objects (similar concept as Candy Crush or Bejeweled) in a specific configuration (i.e. putting 3 trees next to each other) as shown in the screenshots below. However, to increase the difficulty level, there are also bears that walk around the field to block access to free space to place the object. The bears take a different step each turn so that each turn they are positioned somewhere else. To “kill” the bears they must be trapped with no wear to move.

Having played Triple Town for a few years now I wondered how the mobile game holds up to usability and accessibility standards from an objective point of view. Some may think, well it’s just a simple game that just works well what is there to talk about? Well, there is quite a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration when designing a product and we’re going to dissect it into 2 major categories: usability and accessibility.

Usability

Usability is a term that refers to the ease of use of a user interface (UI) and is defined by five broad categories for usability heuristics:

  1. Learnability
  2. Efficiency
  3. Memorability
  4. Errors
  5. Satisfaction

So how does Triple Town hold up to these standards?

Accessibility

Accessibility focuses on making a product accessible by providing equal access and opportunity to people with disabilities — making the product usable by anyone.

Triple Town doesn’t require much action from the user — simply place the object on the field by tapping on the screen. It also doesn’t solely rely on color but also the distinct shapes of objects to signal users that they’ve placed/matched the correct object and is rewarded by an upgraded shape (i.e. 3 trees is a small red house). Being a free app, Triple Town can also be played on a variety of mobile platforms: Androids, Apple, and Kindle Fire.

Dark Patterns

My mother taught me many lessons in life and amongst all of them: nothing in life is free — except her love (thanks mom!). Momma was right — although advertised as a free game, to thoroughly enjoy Triple Town without distractions, you’d better be ready to spend some pocket change. On its free mode, you’re given a limited number of turns when the turns are depleted you have the option to buy more (via coins earned) or wait approximately 2 hours for about 150 turns to replenish which won’t last long. If you’re impatient like me — I caved in and skipped coffee for a day to purchase the unlimited turns.

Here are the top 5 In-App Purchases:

  1. Unlimited Turns for TripleTown ($3.99 USD)
  2. 50,000 coins ($4.99 USD)
  3. 10,000 coins ($2.99 USD)
  4. 5,000 coins ($1.99 USD)
  5. 2,000 coins ($0.99 USD)

Conclusion

Overall Triple Town is a fairly simple and easy game with a good design and with usability and accessibility in mind. It has definitely helped me beat out the lonely and boring train rides in New York City — with or without wifi.

Written by

I combine creativity, technology, and user-centric thinking to create impactful experiences for people. Portfolio: https://www.melissanguyen.design/

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