Opinions in User Research

A common question for user researchers is how many participants are required to find ‘true’ results. Clients can say “but that was only one user” as a reason to disregard a finding. A key part of our role is to explain that one user can be very significant, for example in a 5 user study, that 1 user could represent 20% of the audience.

However this doesn’t mean that 1 user is always significant for every question. In this post I will look at how opinion findings differ to usability findings, the risks to be aware of when reporting them, and some best practices when working with opinions.

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Usability Issues in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate

I really liked the Arkham Batman games – they are probably some of my most enjoyed games from the last generation. So I was enthusiastic about playing the new Batman game for PSVita and 3DS.

Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate is a metroidvania, and it’s impressive how it keeps many of the features from the full-fat series, including all of the gadgets and the combat system. However it has many annoying usability issues which made finishing the game a chore. Here are the worst of them:

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Multiplayer: Social Aspects of Digital Gaming is out now!

Last month, the book Multiplayer: Social Aspects of Digital Gaming was released. The book looks at the social aspects of multiplayer gaming, both online and when played together in the same room (co-located). It features chapters by Richard Bartle (the father of MUD gaming) and Mark Griffiths (the games addiction expert) among others, and was edited by Sonja Kröger and Thorsten Quandt.

My chapter “Playing to Win?”, was produced in collaboration with Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Graham McAllister and Jon Napier. It looks at how combining biometric responses with other research methods can provide insight into gamer’s motivations for playing, and how we can design games to appeal to specific types of gamers.

The publisher introduces the book as follows:

“In the past decade, digital games have become a widely accepted form of media entertainment, moving from the traditional ‘core gamer’ community into the mainstream media market.
With millions of people now enjoying gaming as interactive entertainment, there has been a huge increase in interest in social multiplayer gaming activities. However, despite the explosive growth in the field over the past decade, many aspects of social gaming still remain unexplored, especially from a media and communication studies perspective.

“Multiplayer: Social Aspects of Digital Gaming” is the first edited volume of its kind that takes a closer look at the various forms of human interaction in and around digital games, providing an overview of debates, past and present.

This engaging interdisciplinary book will appeal to upper level students, postgrads and researchers in games research, specifically those focusing on new media and digital games, as well as researchers in media studies and mass communication.“

I hope to have some time to read the rest of the book over the next few weeks, and should be following up with an (entirely unbiased!) review soon.

In the meantime, if you’d like to read it yourself, it’s available on amazon here:

Paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Multiplayer-Routledge-European-Communication-Research/dp/0415828864/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Hardback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Multiplayer-Routledge-European-Communication-Education/dp/0415828856/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0


Book chapter out soon!

In 2011, I presented my MSc Dissertation at the multi.player Conference in Hohenheim, Germany. I’m very happy to share that the book based on that conference is now available for pre-order, which includes a chapter on the research written by myself, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Graham McAllister and Jon Napier.

With the catchy title “Playing to Win? Measuring the Correlation Between Biometric Responses and Social Interaction in Co-Located Social Gaming”, the chapter combines my research on social interaction in multiplayer collocated gaming, with Pejman’s work on using biometrics to guide interviews, and draws new conclusions about how different aspects of social games effect different player types. This research has previously been featured on gamasutra, edge and at Develop Liverpool.

The book, called Multiplayer: The Social Aspects of Digital Gaming, is available on amazon, and will be released October 29th.


Trophy Design in The Last of Us

I should say upfront that this article will contain no spoilers, in case you haven’t finished The Last Of Us yet!

I’ve written before about the importance of trophy and achievement design and the effect it can have upon the player’s experience. I recently played The Last of Us, and noticed that they made some interesting decisions in their choice of trophies which are worth discussing.

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