~ PC Gamer, July 2016, Thanks to @mobilesinper for the heads up! 🙂
Last month, during the week I spent at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, I traveled over to the Sony PlayStation Campus in San Matteo to spend a day at the Games User Research Summit 2015.
I spoke on a panel about Education and Training in Games User Research with Adams Greenwood-Ericksen, Matthew White & Kacey MissKelley – great group of people. We gave an account of the current state of education and training in user research, and specifically games user research, which isn’t in an ideal position right now. We talked about the next generation of user research training, and what we believe is essential – and it was a really interesting discussion. Researchers come into this field from a whole host of different backgrounds, from pure games user research – which can be rare – to computer science, to business, to design, to applied psychology, which is my area of expertise, and beyond. The thing that brings us together from such diverse backgrounds is our belief in the importance of the user and user-centered design, and a passion for creating better, more engaging, more intuitive, more satisfying experiences for people.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology – not the other way around” – Steve Jobs
“Data should be consumed fresh, and is reviewed after
each participant interaction, at the end of the each day
and during full-on synthesis sessions. Field studios—
even when a guest house or living room are converted
to become ad-hoc project rooms—allow the data to
A while ago, I completed the 2014 IGDA Developer Survey, and was really interested to see the preliminary results when they were released this week in an IGDA Press Release. It’s great to read their results in relation to demographics and experience, and I’m fascinated by the results on issues like work/life balance and crunch time. As an IGDA member, I’m so glad to see that this type of research is being carried out in the industry, and I hope we continue to see this and more.
There is just one thing that irks me about the press release and the subsequent reporting of the findings of the study. The study itself is totally above board, but in reporting it, everyone keeps talking about how 22% of individuals working in the games industry are women, while in fact just 22% of the people who responded to the survey were women. I know that the increase (up from 11.5% in 2009 – people are saying that the % has doubled) suggests that there are now more women in the industry than there were five years ago – but that doesn’t mean that 22% of the industry are now female.
In my undergraduate psychology dissertation, which looked at individual differences in altruism in relation to willingness to participate in a study by completing surveys and turning up to participate in research, a significant difference was found in relation to gender – within my sample, females were more willing to participate in research than males. I’m loathe to generalise from an undergraduate dissertation, but there is a lot of research in this area, such as Smith’s 2008 article Does Gender Influence Online Survey Participation? which states:
“In general, more educated and more affluent people are more likely to participate in surveys than less educated and less affluent people (Curtin, Presser, and Singer, 2000; Goyder, Warriner, & Miller, 2002; Singer, van Hoewyk, & Maher, 2000), women are more likely to participate than men (Curtin et al 2000; Moore & Tarnai, 2002; Singer et al 2000), younger people are more likely to participate than older people (Goyder, 1986; Moore & Tarnai, 2002), and white people are more likely to participate than non-white people (Curtin et al 2000; Groves, Singer, & Corning, 2000; Voight, Koepsell & Daling, 2003).”
Either way, although the reporting of the survey leaves something to be desired, I’m sure the data will speak for itself, I am glad that it suggests that there is some increase in the number of women in the industry, and I’m really looking forward to reading the Summary Report and subsequent reports to be released later in the year.
Interesting piece about an article I wrote a few years ago for the International Journal of Role-Playing.
When you run or play in enough role-playing games, you start to wonder: how much does the character people select to play say about them as a person? I mean, there has to be some correlation, doesn’t there? You ask somebody to create an imaginary character they wish to portray and they come up with something – it has all the trappings of the kind of exercise a therapist might suggest.
I’m not the only person that thinks this, either. Do some searching on Google Scholar and you’ll turn up some interesting stuff. One of the more succinct pieces I have read is one titled “Stereotypes and Individual Differences in Role Playing Games” by Noirin Curran published in 2011 in the International Journal of Role-Playing (yup – a scientific journal studying role-playing. Out-geek
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Just read an article called I Was A Final Fantasy Addict (by Rachel Sanders) that really reminds me of my childhood.
Back then, I had all the free time in the world, but a finite number of games, and I played them all to death – making sure that I’ve completed every single side-quest, and explored every available storyline. Today, I have what seems like all the games in the world – my stack of shame seems insurmountable at times – but I’ve never had as much free time to get immersed into a game for hours as I did when I was a kid. Playing through games multiple times just isn’t a luxury that I have any more.
And I really don’t mind, I have so many other “real-life” things going on, and in my free time I get to play a wide variety of games of different types on so many different systems…but sometimes I do get a little nostalgic for those days.
The article is worth a read if you were ever into Final Fantasy, or similar. I think this quote really sums it up:
“Bravely Default doesn’t really scratch the same itch as the RPGs I used to love, but I don’t know that anything could. I don’t think I have that itch anymore. I have a job that challenges me. I have good books and fancy cocktails and television shows that keep me entertained. I live in a city that’s full of astonishing beauty and irredeemable villains, in roughly equal measure. But playing the game has certainly made me feel a real nostalgia, not exactly for those old games themselves, but for how fiercely absorbed in them I was. I’m not sorry to be living a complicated, fascinating, grown-up life that I find more interesting than any all-consuming role-playing game. It’s just that sometimes I miss saving the world.”