What’s it like working at Player Research?
3rd February 2022
Researching players and play sounds like an amazing job, but what does a Games User Researcher actually do for their day-to-day work?
And if you’ve worked in user experience research for an internal or in-house studio before, how is working at Player Research any different?
You’re in the right place to find out.
What does a typical day look like?
At Player Research you’ll be working on a wide range of game genres and user research methodologies: no two days are going to be exactly the same!
Each individual research ‘project’ is typically 6-to-10 working days long, working in teams of two or three.
Each project can be broken down into three main phases:
Preparation: Meetings with the client’s team, understanding their research questions, familiarising yourself with the game, and creating whatever resources are needed for the project: interview guides, surveys, additional materials, and so on.
Testing: One-or-more days of interacting with real players. The exciting process of seeing your planning yield good data, whichever methodology that may be. You’ll be project-managing, interviewing, and ensuring smooth-running sessions.
Analysis and reporting: You’ll deep-dive into the data you’ve produced. Collaboratively considering, digesting, interpreting the player feedback and player data, then ‘telling the story’ by producing a digital report for the development team.
There are days in-between projects that you use for betterment of yourself and the business. See our answer to the question “Will I be working on projects all the time?”.
You can find out more about a ‘day in the life’ of a Games User Researcher from our talk at GamesUR 2018.
Why choose Player Research?
We have huge variety here. Player Research is nearly unique in the games user research space in that we are not an ‘in-house’ studio. We are affiliated with any one brand, franchise, genre or platform. This gives us the freedom to work across the breadth of the games industry and means we get a huge variety of projects through our doors.
From mobile games, to PC strategy games, to AAA first-person shooters, VR, toys-to-life, and everything in between.
We’ve spent the last 10 years fostering as open atmosphere at Player Research; where good ideas, innovative thinking and creativity are listened to and respected, not driven by the loudest voices.
Player Research is run by Games User Researchers, for Games User Researchers, to achieve the highest possible quality and contribution.
“I get to work alongside the most amazing people. Everyone cares about each other’s well-being. Thoughts and feelings of the whole team are actively sought after when decisions are being made, which makes me feel respected and supported. I love working here.”
—Chloe Snell, Player Researcher
Working at Player Research will give you the opportunity not only to learn from some of the best Games User Researchers on the planet, but also to add your voice to the conversation, to develop relationships with clients and to have a direct impact on the global games industry.
Will I work on my own?
At Player Research, we almost always work in pairs. There are a few reasons for this:
- We’ve found teams-of-two to be the best compromise between workload, agility and quality.
- It ensures every project provides opportunities to bounce ideas off one another, and see problems and research questions from new angles. All our staff have different strengths.
- Having two pairs of eyes on a project from the very beginning through to the final delivery of the report means that we can ensure our work is consistently at the high quality level expected by our clients
- For more complex or longer projects we group up into teams of three or four, and regularly bring in fixed-term ‘Research Assistants’ too.
We switch up the teams of two wherever we can, between projects. – Working with different researchers not only helps us all get to know each other better and build a really tight team, but also helps us learn from one another.
Some staff may be particularly passionate about qual research, or about accessibility, or about city-builders…. working with different researchers helps us all see problems differently and in the end, improve the impact we can have on the games we work on.
All Researchers joining the business start off as ‘third’ Researchers, so you won’t be thrown straight into the deep end. Working at Player Research is likely to be quite different to what you’re used to already.
You’ll still be in the thick of the project, but being an ‘extra’ person means there is less pressure and more time to ask questions, take things slowly and really understand why we do things the way we do.
Which research methods will I be using?
The simple answer is: whichever research method is best suited to answering the client’s questions!
Research methods are decided after a call with the client, once we’ve determined what kind of insights they are hoping to gain, and what the game team needs to see.
Our most common methods are Expert Analyses, Usability Playtests and Experiential Playtests. These approaches cover a pretty wide range of a devteam’s needs, however, there are a number of other methods we can use to help answer the trickier or more unusual questions – for instance diary studies, accessibility playtests, competitor analyses; these are all methods that you are likely to encounter in your first months working at Player Research.
Read more about our methodologies in the Games User Research book, chapter 5.
“Working at Player Research is fulfilling and has been really enjoyable. I’m glad to be part of an inclusive, hardworking and welcoming team! We get to see a lot of variety of games and work with a lot of different clients, who always bring interesting projects.”
—Mégane Lacroix, Player Researcher
Will I be able to work from home?
Over the past two years, Player Research has pivoted to working completely from home, much like the rest of the world.
This has led us to develop new ways to approach the research we do, and find solutions that allow us to still deliver world-class research remotely.
All of our staff are working remotely, although we remain hopeful that in-person research can safely resume in the future, using our superb playtesting labs.
For some roles we are still sponsoring visas and eventual relocation to our home cities, or compatible timezones, either at the start of employment or on the candidate’s timeline.
In the shorter-term we’ll support international staff to work remotely in compatible timezones for as long as we’re in this current situation: no in-person research across our business.
There’s lots of moving parts, and an ever-changing context globally, so we are happy to discuss circumstances and goals with individual candidates.
Will I be working on projects all the time?
Although we keep ourselves busy with user research studies, we ensure that meaningful ‘downtime’ is scheduled in between projects. This provides an opportunity for some self-driven development; perhaps reading around a particular subject, assessing a new tool or way of working, or finding innovative solutions that are to the benefit the whole Player Research team.
Although your primary work is as a User Researcher, Player Research offers the ability to specialise, to explore, to deep-dive and to learn new topics or skills that will benefit not only yourself as an individual, but bring a new perspective to the work we do.
And we love to talk about what we do! Player Research has a rich history of conference talks, article-writing, podcasts, mentorship and outreach to the wider community.
Do I need an existing portfolio of work before I apply?
A portfolio of user research work is always a bonus to be able to demonstrate that you have experience asking and answering user research questions, however it’s not an absolute necessity when applying, and we often have ‘entry-level’ roles available.
Something that could be useful both for your application and your own self-development is to cast a critical eye over games you play, noting down usability findings, or accessibility challenges.
Our advice to people seeking to ‘break into’ games user research is to take the time to perform expert analyses in your spare time. This leads to deliverables that you can show in interviews.
If you can articulate your knowledge and passion for GUR, perhaps with some examples of informal analyses you’ve done in your own time, you’ll be off to a flying start with the application process.
“Player Research has provided the support and flexibility for me to grow into being a trusted point of contact for a number of clients, helping them develop research strategy and ultimately shape the future of their games.”
—Harvey Owen, Player Researcher
How much experience do I need in order to apply?
We know that gaining significant games user research experience isn’t easy. If you’re applying for an entry level position with us, we don’t expect you to have hundreds of research projects under your belt.
However, we do expect you to have a level of commitment to learning about games user research, and an understanding of theory and methods. If you have had research experience in your university work or other roles, explore how that can be applied in games user research.
“Working at Player Research has opened up amazing opportunities for an early career researcher like me to work on games across multiple genres and platforms, while accumulating experience with various research methodologies.”
– Chloe Jian, Player Researcher
Each individual vacancy has desired experience listed separately for both our requirements, and for working visas (if applicable). You can always re-apply in future, or apply to multiple roles, if you’re unsure where your personal experience fits in.
For more advice, Player Researcher Brianne Stephenson participated in a panel exploring how to get experience in GamesUR either part time, or while a student.
Still got questions?
We’d love to hear from you.
Reach out to our hiring team at [email protected]
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