School of Computing

A Method for Testing Graph Visualizations Using Games

John Bovey and Peter Rodgers

In Visualization and Data Analysis 2007, volume 6495 of Proceedings Electronic Imaging, pages 182-196. SPIE, January 2007.


We describe a system that enables us to perform exploratory empirical experiments with graph visualization techniques by incorporating them into games that can be played on an internet site, the Graph Games Website ( We present a general discussion of games as a test-bed for empirical experiments in graph comprehension, and explain why they might, in particular, provide a useful way to do exploratory experiments. We then discuss the requirements for games that can be used and describe some individual games including those we have tried on our own site.

The main part of the paper describes our own experiment in setting up a graph-gaming site where we have carried out tests on the benefits of different graph visualizations. We discuss the design of the site, describe its underlying architecture and present a promising initial trial on movement in graph visualization that gathered the results from over 70,000 played games. We then present some statistical conclusions that can be drawn from the resulting data. Finally, we summarize the lessons that have been learned and discuss ideas for future work.

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Bibtex Record

author = {John Bovey and Peter Rodgers},
title = {{A Method for Testing Graph Visualizations Using Games}},
month = {January},
year = {2007},
pages = {182-196},
keywords = {determinacy analysis, Craig interpolants},
note = {},
doi = {},
url = {},
    publication_type = {inproceedings},
    submission_id = {3040_1171353360},
    ISBN = {978-0-9194-6608-2},
    booktitle = {Visualization and Data Analysis 2007},
    volume = {6495},
    series = {Proceedings Electronic Imaging},
    publisher = {SPIE},
    refereed = {yes},

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