‘Gorm the Zop,’ a game that helps Google learn the problem of first-time users and how overwhelming smartphone interfaces can be for them

To learn the dilemma and learning hindrances that a first-time smartphone user can face when the user interface is complicated for them, Google has developed an interesting method.

A game called ‘Gorm the Zop’ is played by the employees of Google’s Next Billion Users (NBU) team as a challenge. This game is not only complicated, but it has a very overwhelming user interface too, and it is hard to play, let alone complete its challenges. Moving on to the next levels is very difficult even for hardcore gamers and for the developers at Google.

But it is so complicated because it is supposed to be like that. This game is meant to make Google developing teams understand and experience the overwhelming situation that first-time users might face while using smartphones. It is also meant to make them realize that if the interface is not user-friendly, it can become very difficult for the users, especially for those who are first-timers.

Josh Woodward, a group product manager for Google’s Next Billion Users team has said that through this game, they are trying to simulate how a new user feels when they start using the internet for the first time, or how they feel when they use a phone, especially a smartphone for the first time. The objective is to simulate the overwhelming and overpowering sense that people get when they face some difficult or impossible challenges. So, when these people are given an interface that does not have symbols or icons that look alien to them, how do they navigate through it, and how do they find a way out to overcome the issue?

The employees at the NBU team are given to play this game in all-hands meetings and in front of their peers, so the pressure increases on them to crack the code of the game somehow. Until they do that, they keep receiving messages that scold them and make them work harder.

Woodward further elaborated and explained that Gorm the Zop is not meant to be completed by anyone, because it is made in such a way. But the point that it is supposed to make is that if one person in the world learns to use the smartphone quickly and can understand the interface and navigate through it without much difficulty, another person in another part of the world might not be able to do that so easily. So, interfaces should be designed and developed in such a way that they are easy to use for everyone in the world.


Google’s Next Billion Users is an initiative that works on building products and services for emerging markets and trends. It has more than 300 core employees and then there are many more across Google’s product teams. They have been operating in India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria.

The projects these teams work are mostly related to mobile payment apps, user interfaces, and the intricacies that come when a product is developed and the level of challenges that it might cause for the users.

This game is part of the latest apps and prototypes that these teams are developing to understand more about the thought process of a new internet/smartphone user.


Hat Tip: BusinessInsider.

Also read: This Page Can Show You All of Your Ignored Reports to Google

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