Digital Game Research, User Experience and the Brain

User Experience

Recently, my research was fea­tured in an arti­cle by Harry Brignull for the UX com­mu­ni­ty, enti­tled UX for videogame design: Gameplay Research”, where he describes suc­cinct­ly what some of my col­leagues and me are doing in game sci­ence, where our main focus is to under­stand play­ers from an empir­i­cal research per­spec­tive.

Digital Game Research and User Experience

If you are in London around first week of September, you can par­tic­i­pate in a high­ly inter­est­ing pan­el about Playability and Player Experience Research I am chair­ing on September 1st, 2.00 – 3.30pm at DiGRA, where we will dis­cuss UX meth­ods for ana­lyz­ing games and play­ers. If you want to get a glimpse of what will be talked about, jump to Joerg’s game usabil­i­ty blog, read a brand new hot paper from Anders, Alessandro and Georgios enti­tled “Player Modeling using Self-Organization in Tomb Raider: Underworld” (pdf), read Hannu’s paper on Playability heuris­tics for mobile mul­ti-play­er games or check the recent pub­li­ca­tions from the TU/e Game XP Lab.

The brain, the hex, the play­er types

I recent­ly had the plea­sure to read some arti­cles in Chris Bateman’s book Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Towards Creating Better Videogames, an inter­est­ing cross-over book some­where between research and indus­try. He makes a very inter­est­ing attempt to cor­re­late pop­u­lar find­ings from neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal research to Roger Caillois’ for­mal play descrip­tions (from Man, Play and Games). Something which has even­tu­al­ly lead to the for­mu­la­tion of BrainHex, a new play­er sat­is­fac­tion mod­el, which depicts game­play behav­ior in rela­tion to ele­ments of the human ner­vous sys­tem (e. g. Hippocampus, Amygdala, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, Orbito-frontal cor­tex, Hypothalamus, Nucleus Accumbens). An inter­est­ing approach towards cat­e­go­riz­ing play­ers: BrainHex cat­e­go­rizes play­ers into seek­ers, sur­vivors, dare­dev­ils, mas­ter­minds, con­querors, socialis­ers, and achiev­ers. While Bartle’s hearts, clubs, dia­monds, spades influ­ence is cer­tain­ly a strong fac­tor in the cre­ation of this mod­el, there could be more to it. I am inter­est­ed in what ten­den­cies the results of the online ques­tion­naire will show. We will see whether more research will pro­vide sup­port­ing evi­dence for this mod­el. One thing is for cer­tain, in my next study I will need to check for sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in brain activ­i­ty based on people’s pet pref­er­ences.


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