Don’t Playtest Your Game

This post is about why you shouldn’t playtest your game. But it’s not about why your game shouldn’t be tested. It just shouldn’t be you, the developer, doing it.

Playtesting during development is invaluable, and it’s great to see how enthusiastic many teams are about running their own tests. However there are a number of biases and pitfalls that we often see in tests run by the developers for their own game, which alter the feedback received and greatly reduce its value.

In this post I cover some of these biases and look at ways in which they can be minimised, to make sure that the playtests are useful, and produce actionable results.

  Read On…

Help us shape a European Games User Research event

Hello fellow Games User Research enthusiast.

A group of researchers (Mirweis Sangin, Seb Long, Steve Mathiesen and myself) are planning to run a Games User Research event in Europe next year.

Before we decide the format, we’d like to get some insight from other researchers based in Europe about what they’d expect from an event, and get some opinions on where we should hold it.

To do this, we’ve made a short survey, which is here:

If you are based in Europe, and enthusiastic about games user research (why else would you be here?) please fill out the survey, and remember to share it with anyone else who would be interested!

When a suitable amount of time has passed, we’ll have a look at the results and get back to everyone with a plan!

The survey link again:

Setting up a multiplayer game in Trials Fusion.

In our office, we often play multiplayer games during lunchtime. The excitebike-esque Trials HD was popular for a while (despite being an Xbox exclusive!), so we were all eagerly awaiting Trials Fusion coming to PS4. It’s a great game, and perfect for collocated competition.

However, there are many annoying parts of setting up a multiplayer game that feel like they lacked the polish that user research brings. In this post, I talk through some of the usability issues we experienced with Trial Fusion’s lobby.  Read On…

GDC 2014 Highlights

This year I was lucky enough to go to the Games Developer Conference for the first time. It was a great opportunity to meet in person with many of the researchers I’d only spoken to online, and I also was able to see some great talks while out there. In this post, I wanted to share two of my favourite talks from the event, and also some other highlights from GDC and the GUR Summit.  Read On…

How important is games usability to reviewers?

As games user researchers, we consider usability to be a major factor in the quality of games. However it is not the only aspect that makes games “good”. A game could have fantastic usability, and yet still be boring.

In order to get a snapshot of the importance of usability for game quality, I have looked at some games released last year and listed all the issues found in reviews. For each issues I’ve determined whether the issue is a usability problem, or whether it’s something else – anything from appeal (“the character is ugly”), to the concept (“we’re bored of farming simulators”).

From this I hope to gain a greater understanding of how important usability issues are to games reviewers.

  Read On…