GDC24: Difficult Games

One of five sessions I hosted at GDC.

Ubisoft Director of Insights for North America Lanie Dixon joined me to talk about difficult games: what it means to get a game that’s designed to be difficult into the hands of players.

The answer is simple, if not easy: an agreed picture of the game’s ‘facets of difficulty’, supported by deliberate data-gathering that spans internal and external feedback.

Read the slides and watch the talk on the GDC Vault.

GDC24: Deceptive Design

One of five sessions I hosted at GDC 2024, two of which are on the Vault.

With co-host Emma Varjo I discussed the impact of Deceptive Design — aka Dark Patterns — in gamedev. Much has been said about the application of deceptive design to games, and much of it easily dismissed as short-sighted or misguided. Here’s our attempt to rationally approach the topic, without the scaremongering.

Watch the talk on the GDC vault.

Metaplay ‘Under The Hood’ Feature

Industry heavyweights Metaplay interviewed me for their gamedev insights blog. In a wide-ranging discussion we covered research, player-centricity, accessibility, and finding the balance between high-tech and low-tech solutions to getting feedback into your game.

Read the full article on Metaplay’s blog.

Playtest Lab Design, Revisited

Seven years after delivering a talk on the design of playtest labs, I returned to the gamesUR stage to deliver an update. Two further labs and a console genertion on, what have I learned about the science of playtest lab layout? And, maybe more importantly, what advice did I give last time that turned out to be wrong?

GUR Café Podcast

Ubisoft Director of Insights Lanie Dixon and I talk about user research methods:

At what point does proficiency in methods stop making you a better researcher?

Methods are the basis of our work as researchers – but ‘knowing your methods’ won’t win you credibility. Methods are not often universal among the stakeholders and partners we are working with and aren’t always the best tool to instigate change.

When should we make this shift of focus from being predominantly about the methods and move towards assessing risks and impact the research can have on the decisions that need to be made?

Watch the episode on YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Game UX Podcast

A podcast about the people behind interface design and development in video games – now including yours truly.

Ahmed Salama and I discussed the successes (and failures) of my wibblywobbly journey into games user research – along with discussion of the ‘flavours’ of user testing, where UXD and UXR intersect, and ‘what is a playtest anyway?’.

Listen online here, or search ‘game UX’ wherever you get your podcasts.