Towards Games User Research
The games industry has been expanding exponentially in the past decades. Consequently, it made games more appealing to wider audiences. Early video games were designed for a large mass market. Games in today’s market have started to attract new audiences with different needs and skills. A significant proportion of research in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) has been devoted to game design to ensure that games provide a positive player experience for the intended audience. Most games user researchers (GUR) share a background in either HCI or psychology and many of them have a graduate degree. The GUR community meets annually for a GUR Summit alongside the large game developers conference (GDC).
Publishing games in today’s market requires an entirely new set of skills and presents more challenges than it once did. What this means is that we need better training programs for games user researchers. It was only a natural fit to present the SWaGUR program at the GUR Summit in San Francisco a year after its inception. One of our co-investigators, Dr. Nacke of the University of Waterloo’s HCI Games Group, presented the new NSERC-funded training network there.
Training the Next Generation for Games User Research
At the annual Games User Research Summit 2017 in San Francisco, SWaGUR member Dr. Lennart Nacke gave a presentation about “Introducing SWaGUR: Training the next generation of Games User Researchers.” He introduced the Saskatchewan-Waterloo Games User Research (SWaGUR) program as the first of its kind in Canada. In his talk, he cleared up that SWaGUR is the first Canadian graduate program to address the demand for skilled games user researchers in industry and academia, providing them with essential skills for this new GUR career path. Our interdisciplinary graduate program was developed to train students completing their Master’s and PhD degrees with the necessary skills to become a games user researcher. The SWaGUR program can be taken with a variety of Master’s and PhD degrees across different disciplines. His talk outlined what the professors from Saskatchewan and Waterloo believe are the challenges for training the next generation of games user researchers. He touched upon learning challenges as well as content strategies for providing students with a comprehensive knowledge set for games user research. He talked the current methods of player experience evaluation and what can be applied in industry. While he also participated in speed networking session with games user researchers in training, he also communicated new ways of becoming a games user researcher by leveraging this new training opportunity in Canada.