What Planners Can Learn from Games User Research

I love it when other disciplines face the same issues that I do as a planner.  In the Games User Research panel led by Marina Kobayashi, the panelists discussed at length how to find the right people for research studies and what makes for good research.

For Games User Research, the right study participants are found through their behavior not demographics or even attitudes. Instead they focus on the games users have played and how they play them (dual thumb sticks or face buttons?). They’ve found that groups are actually more alike based on behavior versus demographics. For instance a 65 year old man can play a game similarly to a 14 year old boy and conversely, two 14 year old boys can play games in very different ways. This interests me from an ethnographic perspective. As planners, it may be interesting to observe behaviors more and consider loosening the demographic focus we take on recruiting for research.

When the panel discussed what makes good research, I was also intrigued with how Games User Researchers peel the onion of a research project. Rather than testing to find what is good first, they test to remove all the problems knowing that in early research, a game just won’t be fun.  But after problems are solved, then they test to see if fun emerges in a game.  Perhaps designing a future market research project with this as inspiration might yield some insightful results.


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