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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