Category: Research


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

Continue Reading..


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..


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.


Anti-Social Behaviour in Games: How Can Game Design Help?

A few short weeks ago Player Researcher Ben Lewis-Evans delivered a talk at the Game Developers Conference 2015 in San Francisco on Anti-Social Behaviour in Games. You can now watch the whole talk online at the link below.

If you would like to know more about GDC 2015, you can also head over to Gamasutra to read Ben’s blog on his experiences at the event.


Interview: “My love is for games and game music, not the music by itself”

Graham McAllister of Player Research recently sat down with Thatgamecompany’s Vincent Diamante to discuss the importance of sound design:

The first game that Vincent Diamante wrote the soundtrack for was Dyadin. You might not have heard of it, but it went on to be selected as a winner of the student showcase at the 2005 Independent Game Festival. His fellow USC classmates and co-developers on the game also included Jenova Chen and Rick Nelson, who he would be reunited with at thatgamecompany. Out of that partnership would come games like Flower and Journey.

Read the rest of the interview in on GamesIndustry International


Simulation Sickness and VR – What is it, and what can developers and players do to reduce it?

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

With the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus somewhere on the horizon for consumers, and the work that Valve is doing, virtual reality (VR) is once again a hot issue for games with all the interest, hype, and business hypothesising that comes along with it.

One often mentioned issue with VR is that some people can feel sick when using it. Indeed, when Sony showed off the Morpheus at GDC this year they warned people if they started to feel sick to let the attendants know and stop playing. In academia this is often referred to as Simulator Sickness (or sometimes “Cybersickness”, if you want to go all Gibsonian).

Simulator sickness is a real problem for some people when using any simulator, although VR is particularly notorious, likely because of the sensory immersion, latency issues, and the added weight of a headset. Simulator sickness is also an issue that is of particular interest to me given my background working with driving simulators. As such, this article aims to lay out what the current science, that I am aware of, has to say about simulation sickness, what it is, why it occurs, and what developers and players can do about it.Continue Reading..


Eye-tracking + GSR: Demoing Our Technical Setup

Getting closer to the player experience sometimes means going beyond simply asking the player ‘how did you feel?’. At Player Research we’re already using tools like eye-tracking and biometrics in order to ‘shrink the uncertainty space’ around players’ experiences – allowing us to ask better, more revealing questions, and get deeper insight into the player experience.

Researcher Dr Ben Lewis-Evans agreed to stream a little gameplay of DOTA 2 and Amnesia: Dark Descent using our real-time eye-tracking and biometric setup, and share a little of his knowledge on the value of each during play.

Our setup is non-intrusive, low maintenance, and performed in real-time, allowing researchers to follow-up straight away with questions about moments highlighted by the technology.

You can watch the videos below.