5 Myths About UX Research in Game Development [TATT #49]

the acagamic tip tuesday Feb 07, 2023
A hyperrealistic rendering of two UX researchers in white lab coats observing a person playing a video game in a laboratory

Many people who read this newsletter know UX research is crucial to making games and helps ensure players have a smooth and fun time. But even though UX is essential, many game developers and teams still believe myths about it that keep them from using it in their development process. In this text, we'll be busting five common myths about UX in game development and showing why incorporating UX research can lead to better games and happier players.

5 UX Research Myths: UX is just a viewpoint, UX testing is optional, UX dampens originality, UX won't fit into the schedule, game development before UX.

Myth #1: The UX research team's thoughts on the game are another point of view.

The opinions of publishing, marketing, executives, and other team members are invaluable in game development. However, their feedback is often subjective and can be challenging to decipher. UX data and analysis provide an objective set of information that allows the team to make informed decisions about the direction they take with their game. UX research isn't just another set of opinions; it's more than that. It tests ideas by getting information from players or in-game analytics. Then, this information is used to figure out where possible problems might be before they become a problem. The UX research team provides an analysis based on what we know about brain behaviour, past experiences, and trends identified through gathered data points.

Myth #2: UX design is just good judgment, so UX testing is optional.

Designing a good user experience means understanding how the players interact with the game and anticipating potential problems. This type of knowledge is not something that developers can simply guess at; it requires data collection, testing, and analysis. UX research provides a structured way to do this, which helps developers quickly identify issues before they become too costly or damaging. By using scientific methods such as A/B testing, observation, or interviews, developers can gain insights into player behaviours and preferences that would otherwise be impossible to obtain without first-hand experience. This allows them to create better games more efficiently, and UX research helps developers pinpoint exactly what works and what doesn't so they can make informed design decisions. Ultimately, UX design isn't just about good judgment; having a UX mindset means considering both quantitative and qualitative data to help design an enjoyable experience for all types of gamers.

Myth #3: Considering UX might dampen originality.

UX research puts the player in focus to help guide game development. By considering UX, teams can better focus their creativity and ensure that they are creating a product tailored to their target audience. This knowledge helps them work smarter and more efficiently by understanding precisely what kind of game they need to create and who it needs to appeal to. Through UX research, teams can also learn about user preferences and behaviours, so they know how best to design the game for maximum engagement. Additionally, UX research allows developers to identify potential usability issues in advance, saving time and money down the road when problems arise during development or after launch.

Myth #4: UX techniques won't fit into the schedule.

UX research may seem unnecessary to include in the game development process, especially when it means adding extra time. But if a game lacks good UX design, sales will be affected, and players may not be as satisfied with the end product. It is essential to consider that while including user research can add more time to production, neglecting it entirely could lead to more crucial issues down the line. Therefore, instead of asking, "Can we afford to think about UX?" teams should ask themselves, "Can we afford not to?". Investing the necessary resources into user experience research can help ensure that games are successful once released onto the market.

Myth #5: You can start UX after development.

UX testing is a crucial part of game development and should not be left until the end of the process. If UX research has been started early in the project timeline, issues or feedback can be addressed before too much time has been invested in developing specific aspects of the game. This allows more agile teams to respond quickly to user feedback and make meaningful changes while they still have time. By involving UX researchers at the beginning stages of game design, they become integral to decision-making throughout all phases – from initial concept through final launch – rather than being brought into the picture only when there’s no other option available. A great example is playtesting: if done at various points during development, it can help uncover potential problems early enough so that solutions can still be implemented before launch day arrives. Altogether this creates better quality products with fewer bugs, improved playability features for players, and lower costs associated with fixing errors after release.




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