User Experience Research and Usability Testing are applied in all companies that develop different digital or non digital products. From all those digital industries I tend to consider gaming industry the most complex regarding the methodologies for UX data collection.
Surprisingly, I observed that Game UX Researchers are selected from specialists with studies in cognitive psychology, human factors, ergonomics, interaction design and human computer interaction. The basis is related to cognitive psychology in all fields of human factors, ergonomics and HCI.
I smile when I see that many small digital companies do not make distinction between UX Designers expertise and UX researchers expertise. Some companies hire UX designers to apply UX research in their work and this is not a benefit for the company, because they can collect only superficial pragmatic data and after that they design with confidence for the needs of users, but the truth is quite different.
In my opinion the UX researchers should have BA/MA/PhD studies and deep knowledge of cognitive psychology and neuroscience and technical knowledge mixed between software and hardware, but not to be mixed with UX designers. Try to imagine 2 roles/jobs in one and this is completely wrong.
The entertainment game development is one of the most complex processes starting with market segmentation, design and build, release and post-release. This workflow combines multidisciplinary teams and UX research is applied in each stage or phase.
I have a deep passion for games, gamification, serious games and everything related to game technology. GUR researchers apply mixed-methods to collect and understand the deep insights of players of different ages and categories.
I try to understand and extend my horizon in UX Research in the game industry by investing time in my training, for example I attended a course in Video game and development at Abertay University in Norway for better understanding the game loop, the user input, update and rendering. From a pragmatic perspective the game looks realistic and it is played in smooth way if there are minimum 60 frames per second in game loop frames. I even used the soft Nvidia G Force experience to record the frames and Nvidia Physx to record the collisions and all interactions, by trying to be in the role of GUR expert.
Additionally there is telemetry software developed by the game industry, by companies like Sony or Ubisoft. Telemetry is used in neuroscience and cognitive sciences, but for the game it must be customized for the specific of the typology of games.
I do have deep knowledge about human factors/ergonomics (as I made research on fighter pilots on supersonic planes, the most exiting field for UX and ergonomic tools), cognitive sciences and neuroscience and HCI (as I made research in different labs in Oslo for different topics) by using physiological computing tools can include eye-tracking, visual recognition of facial expressions, peripheral physiology (facial Electromyography (EMG), Electrodermal Activity (EDA), Electrocardiography (ECG), respiration, and brain imaging (Electroencephalography, fMRI), that allows me to create an authentic and professional worldview or perspective of the UX research applied in gaming.
From my bibliometric analysis and research in GUR field I discovered that game research laboratories and studios use similar UX tools like other digital areas, namely objective qualitative tools (observation, cognitive walkthrough, think aloud) and objective quantitative tools like game metrics and physiological data; for the subjective qualitative the tools that can be used are laddering interviews, focus groups, and for objective quantitative GUR can use heuristic evaluation, surveys, questionnaires and so on.
The moderating techniques are some of the most valuable. The GUR researchers adapt this technique by choosing to use in a play test session one of the following: concurrent think aloud (CTA) for understating the thoughts of players while they play the game and encouraging the players to keep a running stream of consciousness as they play; a second version is retrospective think aloud (RTA) in which players retrace their steps when the play test is finished; additionally moderating techniques are concurrent probing (when the player says something interesting while he plays, the facilitator asks follow-up questions) and retrospective probing (the facilitator asks questions at the end of the play test).
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