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GAMES USER RESEARCH
Dr. Lennart E. Nacke,
Associate Professor
HCI Games Group, Games Institute,
University of Waterloo
Ass...
WHO AM I?
• Associate Professor, Games User Research and Gamification
• Associate Director, Graduate Studies in Digital Ex...
AGENDA
1. UX Maturity Levels
2. Game Design and User Research
3. Games User Research Methods
1. A/B Testing
2. Benchmark P...
UX MATURITY LEVELS
User experience maturity levels. Graham McAllister, Player Research. Chapter 5. Games User Research.
GAME DESIGN AND USER
RESEARCH
GAMES USER RESEARCH
METHODS
http://bit.ly/gurbook
Who is the product for?
­ Who are the users?
­ Who should the users be?
...
GAMES USER RESEARCH
METHODS
An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User ...
A/B TESTING
Pro
Definitive answers to usage
questions around the designs in
question.
Quantifies the impact of a
design co...
BENCHMARK PLAYTEST
Pro
Standardized way to compare
how much things are liked or
disliked.
Allows for meaningful
comparison...
CARD SORT
Pro
Gives insight into how users
think about how the
information in a space relates
to each other.
Gives an exce...
CRITICAL FACET PLAYTEST
Pro
Gives quantified insight into
user’s attitudes about specific
core game experiences.
Con
Does ...
DIARY/CAMERA STUDY
Pro
A relatively cheap qualitative
way to track some behaviours
and attitudes over time.
Con
Not good f...
ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELD STUDY
Pro
Deep qualitative observational
insight into user behaviour.
Gives a good idea of why the
part...
EXTENDED PLAYTEST
Pro
Gives quantified insight into
user’s attitudes about the game
experience over time.
Can be especiall...
FOCUS GROUPS
Pro
Good for generating new ideas
and getting participants to
generate ideas by interacting
with one another....
HEURISTIC EVALUATION
Pro
Fast to implement.
Can catch known problematic
issues quickly.
Often a good starting point.
Con
D...
INTERVIEW
Pro
Good at understanding what
each individual believes about
their game experience.
Can help augment the
unders...
INITIAL EXPERIENCE PLAYTEST
Pro
Gives quantified insight into
user’s attitudes about the initial
game experience.
Con
Sinc...
MARKET SEGMENTATION
Pro
Can be good for quantifying
how portions of a market self-
report as feeling or behaving.
A good s...
NARRATIVE USABILITY
Pro
It can help identify areas of
confusion, misaligned
expectations, genre interactions,
and gaps in ...
ONLINE SURVEY
Pro
Can give quantified insight into
user’s attitudes about many
things. Very flexible.
Con
Since it is self...
PERSONAS
Pro
Gives a team someone concrete
to focus on when making a
product.
Can build team empathy for
users and help wi...
REVIEW
Pro
Fast to implement. Can catch
known problematic issues
quickly.
Often a good starting point.
Con
Does not give a...
RITE TEST
Pro
Good at identifying issues that keep
users from playing a game well.
Good at getting insight into why
users ...
TELEMETRY ANALYSIS
Pro
Excellent at quantifying
behavioural data. When done
well gives an unparalleled
assessment of ‘what...
UNMODERATED USABILITY TEST
Pro
Good at identifying issues that
keep users from playing a
game well.
Good at running someth...
USABILITY BENCHMARK
Pro
Standardized way to compare how
users perform with products.
Allows for meaningful
comparisons of ...
USABILITY TEST
Pro
Good at identifying issues that
keep users from playing a
game well.
Good at getting insight into why
u...
OBSERVATION
31
Especially for a game’s designers watching somebody
play the game is of high value. Seeing how players
deal...
PHYSIOLOGICAL SENSORS
Body information that indexes feeling and thinking
­ Brain (EEG)
­ Skin (GSR)
­ Heart (EKG/ECG)
­ Mu...
TAKEAWAYS
• Ensure that your company an grow its UX maturity level over time
• Use the method that provides most insights ...
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Use code ASPROMP8
for 30% discount
http://bit.ly/gurbook
QUESTIONS?
Get in touch
HCI Games Group, University of Waterloo, Ontario,
Canada
Web: www.hcigames.com
Twitter: @hcigamesg...
GAMES USER RESEARCH: Guest Lecture in UX Design Class at Wilfried Laurier University, Brantford Campus
GAMES USER RESEARCH: Guest Lecture in UX Design Class at Wilfried Laurier University, Brantford Campus
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GAMES USER RESEARCH: Guest Lecture in UX Design Class at Wilfried Laurier University, Brantford Campus

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In this talk, I describe several games user research methods from the Oxford University Press book: Games User Research. I talk about UX maturity levels of game development companies and the game design iterative development cycle and where Game UX fits into that space. I finally present several games user research methods.

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GAMES USER RESEARCH: Guest Lecture in UX Design Class at Wilfried Laurier University, Brantford Campus

  1. 1. GAMES USER RESEARCH Dr. Lennart E. Nacke, Associate Professor HCI Games Group, Games Institute, University of Waterloo Associate Director, Graduate Studies, Stratford Campus USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN GUEST LECTURE
  2. 2. WHO AM I? • Associate Professor, Games User Research and Gamification • Associate Director, Graduate Studies in Digital Experience Innovation at University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus • Ph.D. in Game Development, Keyword: Fun • Director of the HCI Games Group at the University of Waterloo
  3. 3. AGENDA 1. UX Maturity Levels 2. Game Design and User Research 3. Games User Research Methods 1. A/B Testing 2. Benchmark Playtest 3. Card Sort 4. Critical Facet Playtest 5. Diary Study 6. Ethnographic Study 7. Extended Playtest 8. Focus Groups 9. Heuristic Evaluation 3. Games User Research Methods 10. Interview 11. Initial Experience Playtests 12. Market Segmentation 13. Narrative Usability 14. Online Survey 15. Personas 16. Review 17. Rite Test 18. Telemetry 19. Usability Tests (Unmoderated, Benchmark, Regular) 20. Observation 21. Physiological Sensors
  4. 4. UX MATURITY LEVELS User experience maturity levels. Graham McAllister, Player Research. Chapter 5. Games User Research.
  5. 5. GAME DESIGN AND USER RESEARCH
  6. 6. GAMES USER RESEARCH METHODS http://bit.ly/gurbook Who is the product for? ­ Who are the users? ­ Who should the users be? What should the product be? ­ What do our users do with our game? ­ What do our users wish they could do? What should our business model be? How should the product be made?
  7. 7. GAMES USER RESEARCH METHODS An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  8. 8. A/B TESTING Pro Definitive answers to usage questions around the designs in question. Quantifies the impact of a design compared to another design. One of the few true experiments. Con Difficult and expensive to set up. All alternatives have to be designed, coded and working. Does not tell the researcher why the winning design ‘won’. A controlled experiment in which two or more alternatives for a design are randomly assigned to users of the product ‘in the wild’. Then the behaviour of interest is measured via telemetry to see which design performed better. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  9. 9. BENCHMARK PLAYTEST Pro Standardized way to compare how much things are liked or disliked. Allows for meaningful comparisons if a game or game facet is ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’. It gives meaning to measures taken in the future. Con Since it is self-report data it does not accurately tell the researcher why participants felt the way they did. Since the benchmark happens at the end of development, it does not help the game it is used for. Instead it helps other games that come after the benchmark as a reference point. A standardized attitudinal test run with a larger sample size (e.g., 35+ participants). Used to compare against other standardized attitudinal tests run in the exact same way on other products. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  10. 10. CARD SORT Pro Gives insight into how users think about how the information in a space relates to each other. Gives an excellent starting point for organizing menus or other hierarchical structures. Con Does not give definitive answers to questions of grouping or hierarchy. Often final navigational behaviour is different from what users claim their navigational behaviour will be. Is a starting point, but does not completely finalize decisions around information architecture. A group of participants organize topics into categories that make sense to them and label these groups. Alternatively a group of participants place topics into groups that have already been created for them to see if the groupings make sense to them, or if there is similarity between individuals in understanding of the groups. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  11. 11. CRITICAL FACET PLAYTEST Pro Gives quantified insight into user’s attitudes about specific core game experiences. Con Does not indicate if these core experiences are ultimately important to the overall enjoyment of the game. Since it is self-report data, it does not accurately tell the researcher why participants felt the way they did. A survey technique which assesses attitudes and perceptions about very specific core experiences (e.g., the aiming model in vertical levels, the camera for 3D platformers, the steering control in turns for a racing game). An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  12. 12. DIARY/CAMERA STUDY Pro A relatively cheap qualitative way to track some behaviours and attitudes over time. Con Not good for quantification. Can have some loss due to reliance on participants to consistently fill out the diary and take pictures. A qualitative technique in which participants are provided with the materials and structure to record daily events, tasks and perceptions around a game in order to gain insight into their behaviour and needs over time. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  13. 13. ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELD STUDY Pro Deep qualitative observational insight into user behaviour. Gives a good idea of why the participants do what they do. Con Does not allow for quantification and generalization of the behaviours and attitudes to others. A holistic qualitative observational study of users in the context of their actual environment over a period of time. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  14. 14. EXTENDED PLAYTEST Pro Gives quantified insight into user’s attitudes about the game experience over time. Can be especially good at highlighting differences between ‘levels’ of the game. Con Since it is self-report data it does not accurately tell the researcher why participants felt the way they did. A survey technique which assesses the attitudes and perceptions users have of a game in development over an extended period of time. Often run across 2 days and 16 hours of testing. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  15. 15. FOCUS GROUPS Pro Good for generating new ideas and getting participants to generate ideas by interacting with one another. Con Poor at getting accurate behavioural or attitudinal data on how users either use or feel about games (since their interaction with other participants influences their answers). Qualitative technique in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about a game or game experience. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  16. 16. HEURISTIC EVALUATION Pro Fast to implement. Can catch known problematic issues quickly. Often a good starting point. Con Does not give actual behavioural or attitudinal data from participants. Will not catch all the important issues. Often only as good as the reviewer or the heuristics. One or more evaluators examine a game or prototype and judge its compliance with recognized game usability principles (the ‘heuristics’). An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  17. 17. INTERVIEW Pro Good at understanding what each individual believes about their game experience. Can help augment the understanding of why users do what they do. Con Poor at getting accurate behavioural data on how users use a game. Does not quantify a user’s attitudes about a game experience. A 1:1 technique in which an interviewer asks participants questions about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about a game or game experience. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  18. 18. INITIAL EXPERIENCE PLAYTEST Pro Gives quantified insight into user’s attitudes about the initial game experience. Con Since it is self-report data it does not accurately tell the researcher why participants felt the way they did. A survey technique which assesses the attitudes and perceptions users have of a game in development over the first 2 hours of use. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  19. 19. MARKET SEGMENTATION Pro Can be good for quantifying how portions of a market self- report as feeling or behaving. A good starting point combined with ethnographic work for understanding users. Con If the questions used are poor, or not focused on the correct things then the needs and characteristics that segments are divided into can be meaningless or misleading. Relies on self-report, so can be incorrect about actual behaviour (especially purchasing behaviour). A survey technique usually combined with cluster analysis used to divide the market for a product into groups of customers with identifiable needs and characteristics. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  20. 20. NARRATIVE USABILITY Pro It can help identify areas of confusion, misaligned expectations, genre interactions, and gaps in logic allowing the designer to either correct or embrace these beliefs. It does so early in development before changes are costly. Con It does not tell the researcher if the users will “like” the narrative. Or otherwise provide meaningful data on how the user feels about the narrative. A 1:1 observational technique in which participants attempt to understand the narrative, from beginning to end, with a prototype of the narrative before it is implemented in the game. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  21. 21. ONLINE SURVEY Pro Can give quantified insight into user’s attitudes about many things. Very flexible. Con Since it is self-report data it does not accurately tell the researcher why participants felt the way they did. Also the stimulus is rarely controlled. A flexible survey technique which allows researchers to assess the attitudes and perceptions users have on a wide variety of topics. Can be qualitative or quantitative. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  22. 22. PERSONAS Pro Gives a team someone concrete to focus on when making a product. Can build team empathy for users and help with some fast decision making. Con Can become over generalized or overused when the underlying data for the persona do not support the decisions being made based on it. Fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a game in a similar way. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  23. 23. REVIEW Pro Fast to implement. Can catch known problematic issues quickly. Often a good starting point. Con Does not give actual behavioural or attitudinal data from participants. Will not catch all the important issues. Only as good as the reviewer used. One or more evaluators examine a game or prototype and judge if there will be issues based on their experience watching other users use similar games. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  24. 24. RITE TEST Pro Good at identifying issues that keep users from playing a game well. Good at getting insight into why users are not able to accomplish tasks or meet the usability goals of a game. Good at seeing if a change actually solves an issue previously observed. Excellent at getting teams in a ‘fix’ mentality. Con Requires more buy-in from team to set up. Poor at understanding or quantifying attitudes. For example, if the game or game facet is ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’. A 1:1 observational technique in which participants attempt to perform a variety of tasks with a prototype or game in development, while observers note what each user does and says. Performance data are recorded. After each participant the game or prototype may be changed to see if the change solves the issue previously observed. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  25. 25. TELEMETRY ANALYSIS Pro Excellent at quantifying behavioural data. When done well gives an unparalleled assessment of ‘what’ the participant did. Con Takes a long time to set up. If the wrong kind of data is collected it can be unhelpful. Can be very hard to analyse. Does not tell the researcher why the user engaged in the behaviour. Automatic collection of behavioural data from users of the product. This can be on any behaviour that the system can ‘count’ (e.g., deaths, collisions, levels completed, time taken to do thing). An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  26. 26. UNMODERATED USABILITY TEST Pro Good at identifying issues that keep users from playing a game well. Good at running something fast, at scale. Con Poor at understanding or quantifying attitudes. For example, if the game or game facet is ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’. Also because the sessions are unmoderated it is hard/ impossible to follow up with questions to understand why participants did what they did in the moment. A 1:1 observational technique in which participants attempt to perform a variety of tasks with a prototype or game in development while an automated system notes what each user does and says and performance data are recorded. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  27. 27. USABILITY BENCHMARK Pro Standardized way to compare how users perform with products. Allows for meaningful comparisons of observable behaviour on a game or game facet. It gives meaning to behavioural measures taken in the future. Con Since it is often focused on task or task completion it does not holistically quantify attitudes well. Also, since the benchmark happens at the end of development, it does not help the game it is used for. Instead it helps other games that come after it as a reference point. A standardized 1:1 observational test run with a larger sample size (e.g., 20+ participants). Focused on tasks and task completion. Used to compare against other standardized observational tests run in the exact same way. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  28. 28. USABILITY TEST Pro Good at identifying issues that keep users from playing a game well. Good at getting insight into why users are not able to accomplish tasks or meet the usability goals of a game. Con Poor at understanding or quantifying attitudes. For example, if the game or game facet is ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’. A 1:1 observational technique in which participants attempt to perform a variety of tasks with a prototype or game in development. Observers note what each user does and says and performance data are recorded. An overview of GUR methods. Michael C. Medlock, Microsoft Game Studios. Chapter 7. Games User Research.
  29. 29. OBSERVATION 31 Especially for a game’s designers watching somebody play the game is of high value. Seeing how players deal with the game’s challenges, where they get stuck or frustrated in the game level, can lead to profound insights into the gameplay experience for game designers. BEHAVIOURAL OBSERVATION
  30. 30. PHYSIOLOGICAL SENSORS Body information that indexes feeling and thinking ­ Brain (EEG) ­ Skin (GSR) ­ Heart (EKG/ECG) ­ Muscles (EMG) ­ Eyes (Eye Tracking) Introduction to Biometric Measures for Games User Research. Lennart E. Nacke. Chapter 16. Games User Research.
  31. 31. TAKEAWAYS • Ensure that your company an grow its UX maturity level over time • Use the method that provides most insights to your problem • Combine your methods to make up for shortcomings of methods with strengths of other user research methods
  32. 32. WANT TO LEARN MORE? Use code ASPROMP8 for 30% discount http://bit.ly/gurbook
  33. 33. QUESTIONS? Get in touch HCI Games Group, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada Web: www.hcigames.com Twitter: @hcigamesgroup @acagamic Facebook: facebook.com/hcigames E-Mail: lennart.nacke@acm.org Phone: (+1) 519-888-4567 x38251 Use code ASPROMP8 for 30% discount http://bit.ly/gurbook

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