User Experience (UX) Research in Games Course

At CHI 2019, Anders, Lennart, and Pejman will be teaching a brand new crash-course on UX research methods for games. The course will allow participants to understand the complexities of games user research methods for user experience research in games. Three-course sessions at CHI (90 minutes each) on applications of different user research methods in games evaluation and playtesting exercises to help participants turn player feedback into actionable design recommendations.

Practical information: UX Research in Games Course at the CHI 2019 conference:

  • Date: Thursday 9th of May.
  • Room: Castle 1 Crowne Plaza Hotel.
  • Time: Course starts at 09:00 am and runs in 3 modules during the intervals 09:00-10:20, 11:00-12:20, 14:00-15:20 with breaks in between (the full course requires participation in all three modules, but participants are welcome to drop in and out of specific units).
  1. Join our Facebook event for the course to stay in touch with participants.
  2. Sign up for our Email list to get the latest updates about this course, the book, VIP special events, and exclusive offers.
  3. Download the Extended Abstract from the ACM Digital Library. (HTML)
  4. Follow @gamesurbook on Twitter for the latest updates.
  5. After you have completed the course, please ensure that this course runs again at CHI by filling out this feedback survey for the organizers.

During CHI 2019 the Games User Research book is discounted – get it here and use the code ASPROMP8 for a 30% discount.

The progress made in the Games User Research (GUR) field has set the foundations of rigorous and cost-effective evaluation techniques. The first refinements were geared towards the adaptation of classical HCI evaluation techniques by altering the evaluation methods from a pure productivity focus to an entertainment focus. Recent practices in the games industry have sharpened methods and given rise to a host of unique processes aimed at evaluating user experience in games.

Advancements were made towards showing the advantages and disadvantages of multiple techniques, and the specialization of techniques for the games industry and earlier CHI workshops covered these traits in the field.

The progress of the GUR community has produced a solid groundwork. However, the essential task of scrutinizing the techniques suitable for evaluating gaming experience has focused the process onto the application of various user research methods. Thus, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different methods and the process for triangulation these methods to address better research questions are key areas that we address for the continued advancement of the Games User Research community:

In this course, we will first introduce several GUR methods to get participants familiar with the field and outline which methods are suitable to which study design, project size and budget. We will hen help participants structure a basic playtest among themselves and show them how to integrate actionable feedback in the next development iteration of their game.

This course is meant to provide new insights for user experience researchers and human-computer interaction graduate students interested in game evaluation and games user research. We expect some students to be novices in the field of games user research but will assume a basic knowledge of HCI. Some people might already be experienced in designing, developing, or evaluating other artifacts (not games) or products.

The are no prerequisites for this course other than visiting the online course materials before the conference to familiarize oneself with some of the course concepts. We believe that all participants will benefit from our cross-disciplinary approach that will show the real value of games user research practices for game design. We hope to bring this all together to make it visible to everyone in the course, how much better their games will work with iterative playtesting integrated into the development process.

The course has three units (see Table 1), the first one on introducing the field of games user research, the second one methods and the third on reporting. The key takeaways are:

  • Understanding the basis for UX work in games and the core challenges associated with evaluating experiences in games
  • Understanding the context for the application of user research in game development
  • Introduction to the method space for games UX and the pros and cons of each from an applied perspective – and the many dangers to result from lack of validity.
  • Understanding of the relationship between UX and Analytics, and the way that quantitative behavioural telemetry is influencing user research in game development
  • Best practices in game UX reporting and playtest structuring from the perspective of the games industry

If at any point during or after the course, you have questions about the course, please reach out to us (the instructors via email).

Unit 1

Introduction to Games User Research (60 min)
Intro to the course
Definitions: GUR in industry and academia
Evaluating games vs. productivity applications 
Criteria for GUR work
Challenges in GUR

Exercise 1: Choosing a GUR scenario (20 min)

Unit 2

Methods, frameworks and validity (60 min)
Methods review

Validity and bias
GUR frameworks

Exercise 2: Identifying problems in user testing (20 min)

Additional material
Useful slides on common threats to validity in empirical user research
Unit 3

Reporting (45 min)
GUR and Analytics
Introduction to GUR reporting: sections and forms 
Examples of reports
GUR process
[Slides will be uploaded asap]

Exercise 3: Analysis and reporting on quantitative data (30 min)
Exercise text

Summary (5 min)