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America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking

Problem: Handwriting recognition fails for players with unique handwriting.

America’s Test Kitchen relies on handwriting recognition in order to type things into the game. When it works, this system is fast and natural.

It doesn’t work for me, though. When I write, I form my letters uniquely. My handwriting is perfectly legible, but my stroke order and pen direction are backwards. I think it may be because my brother is left-handed, and I learned to write from watching him.

The result is that any handwriting recognition program has about a 60-70% error rate when I write. It takes me 2-3 minutes to write a single word in America’s Test Kitchen.

Solution: Always provide an alternate input.

There’s no reason why America’s Test Kitchen couldn’t have a virtual keyboard. It would save me a lot of headaches.

Developers should always be aware that different players have different abilities, or even just different habits. A developer should offer as many different input mechanics, control options, and customization settings as possible.

Sometimes you can’t avoid it. A wheelchair-bound player isn’t going to get very far with Wii Fit. But for many other games, alternate inputs and controls can make the difference between a pleasant experience and a ragequit.

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