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Player Research
The premier games user research partner. Where gaming instinct meets scientific insight.

Nearly every major game development studio is pivoting toward a more player-centric development process and culture. New internal teams and staff embodying the ‘voice of the player’ are commonplace, including Community Management, Analytics, UX Design and Games User Research.

For decades, ‘UX’ (or ‘user experience’) staff have been helping gamedev teams improve their development processes and craft better gameplay experiences for their players by leveraging psychology and human sciences. …

Usability testing is the most powerful tool in the toolbox for game design improvement.

Getting real players interacting with your prototypes early and regularly in development can be uncomfortable. Yet it ensures teams are never out-of-touch with where design implementation is falling short, or headed for a design dead-end.

The usability testing exercise is able to discover new design flaws and actionable improvements on the topic of a game’s ease-of-use.

By maintaining a laser-focus on what players do and understand it leads to game-changing insight into foundational aspects of the play experience: controls, UI, instructions, audiovisual feedback, learning curve, and…

Video game ‘Concept Testing’ is a research approach, specifically tailored for the games industry, to explore design direction very early in development.

It’s a solution for teams wanting to reality-check their game ideas, and be more informed in making big decisions surrounding potential products.

Each development and publishing house has their own take on assessing potential game concepts. Understandably those insights usually surround funding:

Is this a game idea worthy of our effort, time, and money?

But Concept Testing — using real players — has the potential to deliver plenty more: discovering useful insights about your future audience, and seeding…

How can you recognise where you are on your career journey as a Games User Researcher?

In the world of games ‘user experience’ (UX) there are a multitude of roles, including UX Researchers, UX Designers, UX/UI Designers, Insight Specialists, and Game Analysts… to name a few.

Their day-to-day activities overlap in some areas, and differ in others.

The ways in which one develops ‘seniority’ in a role are equally diverse. What skills make a ‘senior’ versus a ‘mid-’ versus a ‘junior’? Why do experienced staff have greater value and earn more money?

Let’s shed some light on the differences between…


Due to an increase in infections in the local area we’ve been forced to close our labs once again. We stand ready (and eager) with our COVID-safe processes to restart testing, but only when we see the local infections decrease to a suitable level. The last thing we want is to put our staff and players at risk.

Infections were low when we reopened in August, but were rising rapidly when we closed again in late September

Original article

Player Research, like most other businesses, was put into ‘lockdown’ this year.

One of the quintessential hallmarks of a ‘work in progress’ game is debug text. Floating gibberish flickering in the foreground of gameplay, occasionally catching your eye with an <ERROR> or a ‘Missing_Texture’.

Thinking about the design of debug UI seems like misspent time. It is, by its nature, only to be used by our development team, and never to be seen by our eventual players.

Why spend more than a single moment considering practicality, or utility, or legibility of UI destined for the trash?

And so, when in a recent UI design workshop I proposed a re-thinking of a prototype’s…

Fine-tuning Remedy’s Award-Winning Game Design In The Playtest Lab

Control’s final months of development in mid-2019 saw extended bursts of iteration and change. Behind closed doors in the playtest lab, Control was being played by the general public. And in the room next door, in a soundproof observation space, Researchers studied the players’ behaviour, carefully tracking all 12 playtesters, seeking evidence of their misunderstanding or misbehaviour in Control’s unsettling world.

User research sessions like these had been a staple of Control’s development, with Remedy even building a playtesting lab in their Espoo offices. …

Animal Crossing: New Horizons drops players onto a near-deserted island, with empty pockets and dreams of a self-made paradise.

A screenshot from the video game Animal Crossing New Horizons. It shows a sunset over a beach, with a character in the centre
A screenshot from the video game Animal Crossing New Horizons. It shows a sunset over a beach, with a character in the centre
Animal Crossing is a little virtual paradise — if you’re prepared to work for it…

For the first few hours, players are tasked with organising their new tropical home by crafting and using handy tools: spades, axes, fishing poles. Axes chop trees and yield wood; shovels unearth fossils and buried treasure. Players have to swap between tools continuously to tidy their space.

It’s a slightly laborious process to open the in-game inventory, move the cursor to your desired tool with the d-pad, and double-tap to ‘hold’, to then resume weed-clearing or hole-digging. …

A Usability Expert Analysis is one of many games user research methods we use at Player Research to provide actionable insight into a game’s usability and learnability.

This article outlines when a Usability Expert Analysis might be needed, what it consists of, and how it can be utilised in game development.

What is the Purpose of a Usability Expert Analysis?

The objective of a Usability Expert Analysis is to identify aspects of a game that could contribute to issues with player understanding and usability. Player understanding refers to whether or not a player knows what they have to do; for example, do they understand what their next step in the game should be to achieve their objective? …

How to improve your players’ experience before conducting playtests

Here at Player Research we’ve improved gameplay experiences for more than two hundred games globally by applying our knowledge of human-computer interaction, psychology, and neuroscience. Using user experience (UX) analysis and playtest labs, we’ve worked with games studios to help them develop a true understanding of their players and how to improve their games. Working with Google Play to gather learnings from developers, we are sharing insights on the importance of great UX in game design.

In the first article in this series, we shared critical player-centric design principles across three themes:

  • Break barriers with players to accommodating how they…

Player Research

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