THE BLOG

21
Jul

Getting into #GamesUR

At Player Research we’re often asked “how can I get started in games user research?” – so we wrote a blog post to help!

Games user research is a hugely exciting and dynamic domain the the games industry, working to apply our deep understanding of player psychology to the process of video game development.

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25
Dec

Player Research Games of the Year 2016

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2016 has been a big year for Player Research. This is a run down of the games we’ve enjoyed playing most during the year.

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26
Oct

Keywords Studios acquires Player Research

A note from Graham McAllister, Player Research Founder.

“I’m proud to announce that Player Research has joined the Keywords Studios Group, global leaders in video games services.

Founded in January 2012, Player Research has provided User Experience Research and Playtesting Services to hundreds of leading games and many wonderful clients, assisting them in optimising their games during the development phases and in live operation. We’ve been thrilled to receive numerous awards and recognition for our work.

Ever since I started the company, I’ve had very ambitious plans for Player Research. This included expanding into different regions throughout the world and growing our ability to offer services to more and more clients and games. Keywords are the perfect partner to help accelerate that ambition, the expertise, global locations and know-how allows us to not only meet our original goals for the company, but to go well beyond.

For our clients, nothing is changing. We’ll simply be enhancing our understanding of players to a worldwide scale adding cultural specificities to our proven methodologies. We’ll still be working with the same breadth of developers across all genres, platforms, and business models as before. Myself and the Player Research team are very much looking forward to helping make your game become globally successful.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly.”

Graham McAllister
Founder and Director, Player Research

14
Sep

How Pokémon Go Fails to Capture Learnability

The gaming press is unsurprisingly alight with comment on Pokémon Go, but interestingly also with huge numbers of guides and articles on how to actually play the game. Why does this big-budget mobile game need propping-up from how-to guides by the BBCWIREDTrustedReviewsThe GuardianVOXPolygon,RedditorsYoutubers, and many more? This article highlights a number of points where Niantic have broken or ignored many UX design principles for designing a game that is easy to learn and understand, that ultimately could be affecting Pokémon Go’s player experience.

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14
Sep

Spoiled for choice: The psychology of choice overload in games, and how to avoid it

TL;DR version:

  • Too much choice can lead to dissatisfaction with or avoidance of choices
  • Excessive choice should be particularly avoided with game and genre newcomers
  • Choice overload seems to start kicking in when there are more than 7 options to pick from
  • Experienced players may not suffer from choice overload, and having more choice could even be beneficial for them
  • Avoid choice overload by reducing the options available, or by otherwise easing the decision making process for newcomers
  • Dividing options into categories can also help improve choice satisfaction among players unfamiliar with the choice domain

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19
Apr

Perceiving without looking: Designing HUDs for peripheral vision

TL;DR version:

  • Fast paced games are often best played by keeping your eyes on the action
  • HUD information might sometimes be perceivable without placing it in central vision
  • To do this, use big, stark HUD elements, with variations in brightness
  • Avoid clutter, and make HUD elements look visually distinct from one another
  • Draw attention through careful use of flashes and motion

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04
Apr

Better Games from Diaries and Data

Diary studies are a research methodology that provides rich, meaningful data about how players interact with a game over a long period. Diary studies give players an opportunity to record their thoughts and feelings about an unfinished game in the moment. This diary tool gives the developers a truly nuanced and deep understanding of players’ motivations over time, their moment-to-moment reactions over weeks and even months, and unrivalled feedback on how best to improve the game from a player experience perspective. Despite these opportunities for insights that are far greater and more actionable than analytics or early access feedback alone, studios are rarely aware of diary studies, relying all too often on cold, impersonal metrics as the sole method of ‘understanding’ their players. Without the addition of qualitative data about how players feel to supplement analytics data about what they did, any ‘insight’ into players’ engagement, monetisation and retention risks being shallow, unfounded and potentially outright false.Continue Reading..

13
Dec

Player Research Games of the Year 2015

It is games of the year time again, and once again the Player Research staff is sharing the games that they have enjoyed playing the most this year. There are more of us this year, but still not enough to be statistically meaningful. So we are not tallying up votes, but as with last year simply presenting each Player Research staff members personal and subjective picks in their own words [Editor: And my commentary]. Continue Reading..

21
May

Player Research at Unite 2015 Europe

Unite Europe is coming! The event, hosted at Westergasfabriek June 24-25, boasts an impressive line up of industry expertise and offers attendees the opportunity to learn of upcoming features and improvements in Unity.

Player Research Director Graham McAllister will be in attendance and delivering a talk on Friday 25 June from 17:30 – 18:30 entitled Assessing The Gameplay Experience: A Player Perspective. A brief description of what Graham will be discussing can be found below. Head over to the Unite 2015 Europe website for full details and running order.

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18
May

The Usability of Bloodborne

[This blog post by Player Researcher Ben Lewis-Evans was featured on Gamasutra]

I work in the area of Games User Research. That is to say I work with game developers to help them achieve the game experience they are after. To do so I use my background in human factors psychology to run playtests, to carry out heuristic analyses based on usability and player experience principles, and to generally just try to help out as much as my expertise allows.

One thing that I often hear, am told, and/or read online is that the existence and popularity of “hard” games like the Souls games, and more recently Bloodborne, means my job isn’t needed. Or as it is sometimes more strongly put, that my job leads to what is “wrong” with games that aren’t like Bloodborne.

This is an understandable misunderstanding. But it is a misunderstanding. And I want to tell you why by using the example of Bloodborne (which, yes, I completed without guides, but no I didn’t get the “true” ending  - just in case you want to stamp my gamer cred card or something).

There are two major misunderstandings here. The first is that usability is about making games easy. The second is that games like Bloodborne don’t have core elements of good usability in them.Continue Reading..