Category: Media Coverage


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


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..


What does it take to become an expert?

Player Research Director Graham McAllister’s monthly article went up today. Does it take 10,000 hours to become a master in your field?

Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book, Outliers, claimed that an individual must practice for at least 10,000 hours, or approximately 10 years (20 hours a week for 500 weeks) in order to reach expert status. Since then, this figure has been often quoted, however it seems that it may not be quite true.

The 10,000 hour rule was first proposed by Herbert Simon and Bill Chase in 1973, when they looked into the histories of experts in different domains. They found that in chess for example, the average time taken between someone first learning the rules of chess and then becoming a Grandmaster, was 10 years. The same is true in musical composition, the time taken between first studying music and then going on to make a great composition is also around 10 years. Similarly in other domains, studies have found that for scientists and authors, the time taken between making their first publication and their best publication, was also around 10 years. However, what Simon and Chase also found, was that time alone would not automatically lead to expert status, i.e. merely spending 10 years in your chosen discipline had little bearing on becoming an expert. Something else was needed.

Read the full article here.

Mar Article: Whose Game is it Anyway?

Graham’s second monthly article was posted today. In it he speaks to the importance of defining an intended audience in game design and the problematic categories that hamper current games design in doing so:

Who is your game for? This might seem like a trivial question, something which any developer should be able to answer clearly and concisely, yet it’s common for responses to use broad terms or involve a large degree of guesswork.

This seems at odds with the very essence of design. After all, design is not just about creating a product, it’s about creating a product for an intended audience. The reason why design paradigms involve a feedback loop is so key assumptions are regularly validated against a well-defined set of users, but if you haven’t defined your intended audience accurately and you’re validating against the wrong players, are you really evaluating your game’s design at all?

Read the full article at


5 for 5%: Essential Playability-Focused Activities That Every Game Should Budget For

[This blog post by Player Researcher Seb Long was featured on Gamasutra]


Question: What is your studio doing to deliver better a player experience? More than ever, the end-user’s experience of commercial game titles is tantamount to a title’s critical and commercial success. Indie teams like Hipster Whale can compete with high-budget development teams in quality and mind-share – it is their player experience that sets titles apart from their peers rather than budget, IP or marketing spend. So what tools are your team using to ensure you deliver these experiences to players? 

Recently, emphasis on telemetry-based variable-twiddling is often cited as ‘focusing on the player’, but it is becoming clear to many that analytics are an important part of the answer, but don’t offer the complete picture.

So what are you really doing to address the market’s new-found focus on experience, playability and accessibility? How have your development practices changed in order to accommodate player-centric design, focusing on usability, understandability, in delivering a polished player experience, and ensuring that your intended experience is realised by players?Continue Reading..

Feb Article: I Fight For The User

Graham’s monthly article begins with an introduction to the field of user research:

My day job is to improve everything about the games industry. That may sound rather sensationalist for the opening sentence of a regular new column, but I believe it to be true. Well, mostly. So what job could I possibly have that has such a broad impact across the industry? After all, the games industry is made up of many different roles – designers, programmers, artists, producers, directors, studio heads, publishers, investors – is there really one discipline that could enhance the way each of these individuals work and improve the games that emerge as a result of their efforts? Yes, there is, and it’s called User Research.

Read the full article at


Player Research Internship: Player Recruitment Coordinator

In association with Wired Sussex, Player Research are inviting applications for an intern position.

For more details, please visit Wired Sussex, or continue reading for the full internship specification and application details.

Continue Reading..


Develop Award Nominated!

We’re absolutely delighted to be nominated for a Develop Award, for the second time, this year!

The Develop Awards are the European games industry’s highest accolade – presented during the Develop conference held right here in sunny Brighton.

Congratulations to the other nominees from all of us at Player Research.


Seb Quoted in Develop’s OFT Coverage

Seb Long is quoted in Develop’s coverage of the OFT guidelines clarification on F2P games, concluding that:

“Many of the OFT’s principles have crossover with best practices in game usability. Developers will need to work carefully to avoid unintentional breaches as a result of latent usability issues – especially in games for children. The new OFT guidelines could assist developers in not only making games that meet their fair trade obligations, but should also result in games with better usability, understandability, and which deliver better experiences for players of all ages.”

Read the full article online, or pick up the GDC special edition of the print magazine.


Player Research & Microsoft Greenshoots

Player Research are very proud to be working with Microsoft and Creative England in the Greenshoots programme – helping UK games startups by providing funding and support.

We’ll have more details to share very soon.

For more information, visit the Microsoft Greenshoots website.