For my game, I wanted to create something that is not common to games- a deliberately bad and frustrating user experience. I have not had a single good experience calling customer support or technical support for any product I have bought. The process is very frustrating, often making me feel helpless as there is nothing I can do to speed the process up even if I know what the process is. The personnel on the other end of the phone line rarely have the required technical knowledge. They seem to be following preset scripts to diagnose problems, rarely using their own intelligence.
In the game, the player has to work with the customer service agent to help figure out why his or her internet connection isn’t working. The first few questions might seem normal- for instance, they ask the customer to reset the router normally even if the person already told them they did that and it didn’t help because the problem is something else. As the game progresses, the questions become more absurd. This is an exaggeration of how sometimes they seem to ask questions that seem to make no sense in the current problem scenario simply because they are following a generic script or maybe because they don’t have the technical know-how to fix the issue.
The game is frustrating in that the help agent does not reply soon either. My initial design has it such that the reply would come in any time between 1 to 128 minutes (determined pseudo-randomly) from the last player message. But to ensure that players stayed with the game, I also tracked the mouse. If at any time the player went to close the tab or browser with the mouse, a reply would be posted, thereby trying to ensure that the player sticks with the game. But based on play-testing it, I found that it was more fun when the players figured this out so I removed the time constraint and made it such that the reply is sent from the help agent only when the player is about to close the game (I haven’t play tested this version as I only made this change after the demo in class).
Note: the agent does not reply until the user has sent at least one message reply to the previous customer agent reply. This is to ensure that the users are actually trying to type something and get frustrated instead of moving the mouse all the time to generate agent replies quickly (without getting really frustrated as they would if they typed replies).
After some time, the help agent starts asking seemingly random or arbitrary questions about the player that have no connection to the issue at hand. This was an exaggerated way to show how sometimes, they follow scripts or ask questions almost mechanically instead of actually analyzing the problem to come to a solution. These scripts are usually designed for cases where the customers have no technical knowledge about the device or system, and would not have tried to solve the problem themselves before calling for help. They are also designed to get the best call times per caller in the average case as the main objective and performance metric for these call centers is the average time they spend per call (the objective being to reduce this time to the lowest possible number).