Games UX Challenge – Research Methods

Move from 'reading about' to 'doing' Games UX and user research. This series of real-world Games User Research tasks will allow you to create portfolio-worthy examples of doing real games user research. In this edition, we're looking at how to pick the right research method.

Last updated:

Move from ‘reading about’ to ‘doing’ Games UX and user research. This series of real-world Games User Research tasks will allow you to create portfolio-worthy examples of doing real games user research.

In this edition, we’re looking at how to pick the right research method.

Picking Research Methods

Research methods are the tools that researchers can call upon to answer the questions teams come to us with.

Some of the more common methods UX researchers use include:

  • Interviews
  • Observation of a live playtest (and asking live questions)
  • Observation of a pre-recorded playtest
  • A survey or questionnaire
  • A diary study

Researchers with specialist expertise might also apply:

  • Reviewing analytics from the game
  • A/B testing
  • Observation augmented with biometric readings or eyetracking

Picking the right method involves pragmatism. This requires not only understanding which method is best for collecting the data. Researchers frequently have to balance the ‘ideal’ method with considering which method or methods will get us an answer within the time, and budget we have available to us.

Scenario

The team behind Pokemon Unite have agreed some research objectives with you. They are:

  • Do players complete the tutorial?
  • Do players understand, and are they able to use their character’s special moves?
  • Do players learn how to score goals?
  • Do players enjoy the game?
  • Why do people stop playing within the first 30 days?

Now they want to know how to answer these objectives, and would like answers within the next 2 months.

The Task

If you haven’t played Pokemon Unite, you might want to download it and play through the first thirty minutes, to be familiar with the mechanics described above. (This is called screening the code)

For each of the research objectives, decide which method you would use to answer it. Then come up with an example of the question or task you might set players.

(a fictional example – if the objective was Do players understand what the shop does? , I might consider interviewing them about the shop at the end of a playtest and ask “Tell me how the shop works”)

Extra credit: Think about how you would explain + justify your method choices to someone who isn’t a user researcher and doesn’t understand which methods are good for which purpose.

Where to find help?

Here’s some reading around research methods:

This extract from the How To Be A Games User Researcher book introduces some common games user research methods.

This blog post from the Nielsen Norman group lists the differences and brief introductions to some research methods.

Tomer Sharon’s presentation on validating assumptions with research methods.

How do I enter?

The challenge is always open, so feel free to take part at any time – have a go at the task, and share it with me (or keep it as your own work!). I will be giving (friendly) feedback on many of the submissions received before 15th April 2022.

Follow me on twitter ( @Steve_Bromley) and tweet your research objectives with the hashtag #gamesUXchallenge and I will try and include it in my feedback round-up!

Looking for more games user research advice? Join my mailing list to receive a monthly lesson filled with best practice and practical advice to build a career in the sector.

Start your games user research Career

Every month, get sent the latest articles on how to start a career in games user research, and hand-picked job opportunities.

Plus get two free e-books of career guidance from top games companies

Free Games User Research Ebooks
Author image

Meet the author

Steve Bromley is an expert user researcher, who works with studios of all sizes to run playtests, and integrate user research into the game development process.

Learn more

One comment

Comments are closed.

Keep Exploring

17 games UX research job interview qus to prep for

17 Games UX Research Job Interview Questions To Prepare For

You’ve got the interview for the games studio of your dreams. Learn what you will be asked, and how to answer games user research interview questions.

How to get games user research experience (before you have a job in this area)

How to get games user research experience (before you have a job)

No experience holding you back? Learn how to get games experience before you get your first job in games UX research.

Learn about the benefits of creating a games user research portfolio

Make a games user research portfolio

Discover whether a portfolio is required for games user research, and how to make one.

Master Games User Research

Free monthly new articles teaching playtesting & how to be a games user researcher. Join the most interesting conversations about games user research, discover job opportunities, and be introduced to new ways to think about game development.