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Speakers

There's three showings of GRUX Online. Both tracks play simultaneously at 10am EIT then 10am GMT and finally 10am PT.

Track One

10:00

10:15

10:45

11:30

13:00

13:30

14:45

15:15

Welcome to GRUX Online

Emma Varjo, Conference Chair

15 minute break

How to get into games UX?

[Expert panel session]

30 minute lunch break

15 minute break

15:45

Closing remarks

Emma Varjo, Conference Chair

Track Two

10:00

10:15

10:45

11:30

13:00

13:30

14:45

15:15

Welcome to GRUX Online

Emma Varjo, Conference Chair

15 minute break

30 minute lunch break

GUR Café Podcast

Lanie Dixon and Olivier De Maeyer

15 minute break

15:45

Closing remarks

Emma Varjo, Conference Chair

10:15_Track One

I Need More Mana! Cognitive Accessibility Considerations in Digital Card Games

Digital collectible card games (or CCGs) are an incredibly popular and growing genre, with more and more games launching every year - from single-player experiences like Slay the Spire, to genre-defining Hearthstone and Grandaddy of them all, Magic the Gathering - but how accessible are these games, anyway?

This talk takes a look at cognitive accessibility considerations in game design with a focus on digital CCGs.

 

"How accessible are these games to new players, and to those with cognitive barriers?"

 

"How do we teach these often complex games and make sure that players aren't put off by the mental load and steep learning curve?"

 

These concepts will provide a framework for thinking about cognitive accessibility when designing your game.

About The Speaker

Stacey Jenkins is a content creator and accessibility specialist that also works with Can I Play That? to develop valuable training for game developers to ensure that all content is inclusive and accessible for the whole community.

 

With fibromyalgia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Stacey has 'pain brain' which affects her cognitive function when it comes to gaming. She has used her own personal experience to consult on cognitive accessibility and to educate others on topics such as diversity and inclusion, life as a disabled streamer, and accessibility in gaming.

 

Stacey has spoken at multiple TwitchCons, GAconf, and most recently at GDC 2021 with Can I Play That, delivering a special version of their a11y workshop.

Stacey Jenkins

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10:15_Track Two

How to get games user research experience without a job

It's hard to get your first job in games user research.

There are very few entry-level roles, and competition for them is fierce.

 

I've been mentoring junior researchers for many years, and some of the most common questions I get asked are 'how do I get experience without having the job already' and 'how do I stand out from the crowd of applicants'. In this session, I'll explain how to create a strong portfolio of independent research projects, by running usability reviews with small game developers.

 

This session will teach you how to find game developers to work with and how to make a convincing approach to start a successful partnership. I'll explain how to how to run a usability review of their game and how to describe and share the findings of your review.

" Learn how to develop your own research skills independently, stand out from the crowd of junior job applicants, and get the experience needed to land your first user research job!"

 

We'll also look at potential ways that this can be translated into a portfolio to support job applications. Sharing real examples from my own work with an indie development team, I will walk through the end-to-end process of organising and running an independent usability review, and equip you with the tools to do this yourself.

About The Speaker

Steve Bromley has been working with the games industry for over a decade, and led research studies for many of PlayStation's top European games including Horizon: Zero Dawn, SingStar and the PlayStation VR launch lineup. He continues to work with games studios to improve the player experience of their games.

Steve started and ran the games user research mentoring scheme for five years, which partnered over one hundred students with more than fifty industry professionals from top companies such as Sony, EA, Valve, Ubisoft, and Microsoft, and helped many people get their first job in games.

This year he released a book on how to start a career in games user research, called 'How To Be A Games User Researcher'. The book covers many of the topics that mentees have asked as they start their games user research career.

Steve Bromley

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10:45_Track One

Plantopia: the UX challenges of developing an innovative mobile game

Marianne Le Gall, Voodoo

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In this talk, you will follow the story of the mobile game Plantopia

The very first merge game where you can grow your own Dream Garden, and learn how to make organic products out of the plants you grow.

 

I will talk about design choices that make it an innovative game for the audience, the UX challenges they caused, how we managed to solve them, and the mistakes that were made along the way.

 

I am sharing my insights with the hope that they will help other teams get a better approach and avoid the same mistakes when facing similar challenges.

About The Speaker

Marianne is a Senior UX Designer in the casual team of Voodoo based in Berlin. She has  been working in the mobile game industry for 8 years. For most of her career, working in small teams, fast-paced environments, on various genres of games. She originally studied graphic design and started as a UI Designer, but slowly shifted to fully design games herself, finding more satisfaction focusing on the entire experience than the art.

 

10:45_Track Two

8 Ways To Bring Research Strategy To Your Research Organisation

This talk gives user researchers ideas for how to make their research orgs more strategic. Strategy relates to using insights to uncover problems and latent user needs to thus inform product direction.

Often called exploring the problem space, games make this kind of work tricky because, in many ways, games don't really solve problems.

"Looking back on my own journey, there were times that I felt stuck in evaluative research cycles."

 

Witnessing the lack of impact these cycles were making, I knew that despite the nuances game development brings to the table, there was still more that we could be doing to move the needle on "what to build" in addition to "how to build it right".

 

With time, we were able to try strategy-oriented practices that allowed us to make more impact on early game concepts, new features, and marketing campaigns. Walking through eight specific ideas, or "tentacles", the talk makes the case for each tentacle and provides some details on how to go about bringing these practices into your team's day-to-day work.

About The Speaker

Sarah Romoslawski is a user researcher that has worked in games, children's entertainment, consumer electronics, health tech, and most recently, fintech industries. Sarah's interest in user research for games came about while working in academic virtual reality and mixed reality research groups at Carnegie Mellon and Arizona State University. Starting her gaming career at EA Pogo.com as a game producer, her first research-focused position was at Sifteo, where she built a grassroots playtesting service for the iconic video gaming blocks. Previously the Senior Manager of User Experience Research at Glu Mobile, she grew the user experience research function from a team of one to a team of eight while supporting multiple studios and game development teams. While independent at the time of recording the talk, Sarah is currently working as a Staff Researcher supporting the Design System at Coinbase.

Sarah Romoslawski

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11:30_Track One

How to get into games UX?

This panel focuses on answering one of the most popular questions among UX design professionals interested in entering the games industry.

  • Are UX Design skills transferable?

  • What do we do every day at work?

  • How is the experience after joining the games industry?

  • What kind of backgrounds are expected or acceptable?

  • What are the challenges happening in the games industry?

  • What are the resources recommended to someone making the industry transition?

  • And more!

Meet The Panel

Felipe Cumaru, Cloudhead

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Felipe Cumaru is an experienced designer, with experience in mobile applications and games, focused in visual design, information architecture and UX. Currently, at Cloudhead games, working as a UX/UI designer in the award winning Pistol Whip game, for VR. Previously, worked on several games for VR and mobile platforms in Blackriver, the game studio of Samsung R&D Institute.

Celia Hodent, Consultant

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Celia Hodent is a leader in the application of user experience (UX) and cognitive science in the game industry. Celia holds a PhD in psychology and has over ten years of experience in the development of UX strategy and processes in video game studios. She currently works as an independent consultant, helping studios increase the likelihood of their games to be engaging and successful.

Rich Ridlen, Oculus

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Rich Ridlen is a seasoned user researcher with an emphasis on entertainment and video technology.

 

Rich is experienced in a broad swath of methods and applying them to dig deep into user thought and behaviour. He founded the UXR program at EA and is currently leading the games user research effort at Oculus.

Vivian Ortenzi, Kabam

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Vivian Ortenzi is a broad designer with ten years of experience in digital products (web/mobile) and four years exclusively on UX/UI for apps and games. Currently, at Kabam working as a UX/UI Designer with the Marvel Contest of the Champions team. Previously worked on Minecraft's PlayStation platform team.

Oliver O'Donnell, RhumHR

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Oliver O'Donnell from the U.K., spent the last 4 years in Canada, 3 of which he has been lucky enough to work with his team RhumHR. We partner primarily with, but not limited to, creative industries such as games, VFX & animation to elevate their talent teams, build a world-class candidate experience & mature recruitment/HR frameworks.

 
 

11:30_Track Two

How we remotely researched LatAm through COVID-19, for Jogatina Dominoes

Covid-19 impacted the whole world, but Brazil had a complex political and social context that heavily affected health safety and social interactions.

 

This talk will share how we conducted a Persona Research 2021 in Latin America for Jogatina Dominoes  at Gazeus, facing social isolation, remote work, remote interviews, recruiting issues, building player's trust, and generating results from teamwork.

"Gazeus is the biggest Brazilian company for Casual & Social games. Jogatina Dominoes is a classic game with over 1.3 million monthly active users."

 

We are going to share the entire Persona process, research methodology, deliverables, lessons learned, and takeaways for those who face the same challenges for remote interviews and research.

About The Speakers

JP Nogueira has been working in the game industry for 18 years, with an emphasis on freemium mobile games. His portfolio covers a broad range of game categories, including AR, VR, and Hyper Casual. He is currently working as Senior Product Designer at Gazeus. He also has a Master's degree in Design from Universidade de Brasília (Brazil), and previously presented at Game UX Summit Europe '18, Game UX Summit '19, and other relevant Brazilian events (such as SBGames).

 

Viviane Mesquita graduated in Design with a specialization in Usability and User Experience. She is the Lead Product Designer at Gazeus, with almost five years at the company, managing a team with different professional profiles developing a range of classic mobile games. Viviane seeks to transform how player experience is part of the development structure through new methodologies and design processes. Passionate about working with Games, she has been working for over fourteen years in the mobile free-to-play games market, producing marketing, classic, and authorial titles.

Viviane Mesquita, Gazeus

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JP Nogueira, Gazeus

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13:00_Track One Microtalks

MICROTALK

Crash Course: What is Deaf Accessibility?

This 5 minute micro talk is a crash course on Deaf Accessibility in video games. During the talk, we will go over what deafness is; share how specific functional limitations apply to the context of games; provide most important UX and game design practices, including important tidbits for researchers who may be working with d/Deaf participants; and give recommended readings for those who would like to learn more.

About The Speaker

Morgan Baker is an Accessibility Specialist and Game Designer at The Odd Gentlemen. She uses her holistic background in Game Design, User Experience, and Disability Studies to optimize accessible player experiences. 

Morgan Baker, The Odd Gentlemen

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MICROTALK

Accessibility Versus Difficulty

A staple of gamer discourse around difficulty is that accessibility and difficulty are entirely separate concepts that should not be conflated.

 

This short talk will get into the weeds of what the two things really mean and how exactly they relate.

About The Speaker

Ian Hamilton is an accessibility specialist with a 15 year background in raising the bar for gamers with disabilities, though advocacy and awareness raising – writing, speaking, organising events, community building – and consulting, working with studios from the smallest indies to the largest AAAs, with publishers, platforms, industry and government bodies. Co-director of GAconf and coordinator of gameaccessibilityguidelines.com.

Ian Hamilton, Consultant

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MICROTALK

What I learned about Games UX from building an arcade cabinet

This 5 minute micro talk is a crash course on Deaf Accessibility in video games. During the talk, we will go over what deafness is; share how specific functional limitations apply to the context of games; provide most important UX and game design practices, including important tidbits for researchers who may be working with d/Deaf participants; and give recommended readings for those who would like to learn more.

About The Speaker

Izzan Bacharrudin Soedarsono is a Lifelong Learner who has a curiosity for understanding how games and playing can help us to simplify and understand various complexity in the world to create an impact or legacy that can dent our universe. 

Izzan Bacharrudin Soedarsono

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MICROTALK

How to design for player persistence

What motivates player's to persist through challenging parts of a game? How can game designers avoid churn and encourage player persistence through design? I'll be sharing three case studies of player's with different motivations for play and what design features they find motivating and rage-inducing.

About The Speaker

Megan Pusey is currently completing her PhD in games user research. She is investigating how puzzle games could potentially help develop resilience. As a high school teacher Megan used video games such as Minecraft, Universe Sandbox and Portal 2 to teach science. She enjoys playing video games and making costumes in her spare time.

Megan Pusey, Murdoch University

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13:00_Track Two Microtalks

MICROTALK

Hexbin Maps as a Tool in Games User Research

This 5 minute micro talk is a crash course on Deaf Accessibility in video games. During the talk, we will go over what deafness is; share how specific functional limitations apply to the context of games; provide most important UX and game design practices, including important tidbits for researchers who may be working with d/Deaf participants; and give recommended readings for those who would like to learn more.

About The Speaker

Günter Wallner is Professor for Game Computing at the Johannes Kepler University Linz and holds positions at the Eindhoven University of Technology and Ontario Tech University. His research interests lie at the intersection of games user research, data analytics, and information visualization. As part of this, he is working on data visualizations to support the analysis of increasingly large-scale player behavioral datasets used in game analytics. He is editor of the 'Data Analytics Applications in Gaming and Entertainment' book. 

Guenter Wallner, Johannes Kepler University

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MICROTALK

Understanding Your Players: The Value of Social Media

Microblogging platforms such as Twitter are important communication channels between a game studio and their community. However, such platforms are not only useful for distributing information but also serve as rich information resource for gathering feedback from the player community. This microtalk will show how Twitter data can be used to learn more about player communities as well as explain variations in in-game activities.

About The Speaker

Simone Kriglstein is Associate Professor at the Masaryk University as well as scientist at the Austrian Institute of Technology and at the University of Vienna. She specializes in designing and evaluating user interfaces and interaction methods in different fields, including games. Simone has received or has been nominated for several awards for her work on games, including the German Game Developer Newcomer Award 2006.

Simone Kriglstein, Masaryk University

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MICROTALK

What does your future games user research employer want you to do?

What skills are in demand for games user researchers? This talk presents an analyses of three years' worth of games user research job postings from the GRUX.org Jobs Board.

 

What can job-seekers and games user research professionals learn from the skills that are requested on job descriptions?

About The Speaker

Raphaël Leroy has a background in work psychology and economics psychology. He has gained experience both as a Game User Researcher, during his short stay at Massive Entertainment, and as a generalist User Researcher at a Brussels-based UX agency, where he currently works and tries to incorporate game elements and principles into web design. He also has helped to shape the prior and current GRUX Online conferences.

Raphaël Leroy

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13:30_Track One

How Xbox supports accessible game design through user research

The Xbox Research & Design Accessibility team supports accessible design at Xbox Game Studios.

 

I will start the presentation by introducing our team's approach to accessible game design: adopting a needs-based approach combined with a framework inspired by Microsoft's inclusive design kit. I will then focus on how we have used this approach to support accessible design at the Xbox Game Studios. 

 

 Using case studies on multiple games, I'll give examples of the accessibility features, and how they improved the accessibility of the game, but also what user research methods our team used to support the development of each feature.

 

I'll be discussing features such as the Sea of Thieves toggle and hold options for game controls which was a direct result of the team's participation in an Inclusive Design workshop run by our team; the Gears 5 escape ping audio navigation feature which was reviewed by players with disabilities through a community expert review method developed by our team; and Arachnophobia mode in Grounded which was developed through survey and testing by our user research team.

About The Speaker

Anna Waismeyer is a User Researcher on the Xbox Research & Design Accessibility team.

 

In my two years at Xbox I have helped establish accessible and inclusive design programs across Xbox product spaces including studios, hardware, platform, and services. Prior to Xbox, I spent time exploring the cognition of young children, dogs, and squirrels, by coming up with fun games for them to play that would shed light on their internal causal and spatial reasoning strategies. On my Twitter I try to regularly amplify the voices of others in the Gaming and Disability community as well as occasionally post requests for folks to provide feedback to help our team make accessibility improvements to Xbox products and services.

Anna Waismeyer, Xbox

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13:30_Track Two

GUR Café Episode

Join the GUR Cafe Podcast in a discussion inspired by a talk from Julien Huguenin, "Blending User Research into the Design Cycle to Maximize Impact" given at the 2019 #gamesUR Summit in San Francisco.

 

There is certainly no shortage of discussions regarding the importance of building influence as a researcher, but what does it mean to be a blended researcher? What have we learned and how have times changed in the last 2 years since Julien's original talk? In this episode we'll discuss:

  • The difference between embedded vs blended, as well as what it means to be a partner vs support to our design teams

  • Some of the current issues that can and do hold us back as researchers

  • The many ways in which we can be blended into the design cycle and begin to own at least a portion of the iteration process

  • How we and our teams have built healthy relationships with our stakeholders and production teams, as well as how Covid has (or hasn't) changed all that

  • Steps we can all take to move towards a more blended relationship with our design teams while fighting the iteration black box

About The Podcast

GUR Café is Lanie Dixon, Olivier De Maeyer and Sébastien Lourties.


Lanie Dixon - User Research Team Lead at Ubisoft Montreal All-around GUR evangelist. 6 years in GUR with experience working on games in everything from VR, educational, indie, and AAA. Former indie game studio owner. Getting fun out of watching my siblings play games growing up trained me for this. Find Lanie on Twitter.

Olivier De Maeyer - User Research Manager @ Ubisoft Montreal UR Veteran. 19+ years of studying human interaction with everything that has screens and buttons, including 6 years in games. Obsessed with methods. My appeal to UX started at 8 years old when I discovered how painful "ergonomic" scissors were for left-handed people like me.

 

Special thanks to Julien Huguenin – Cell Owner of the Game Intelligence team on Rainbow Six Siege at Ubisoft Montreal. Find Julien on Twitter.

GUR Café Podcast

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14:45_Track One

Accessible Horror: Everyone is Entitled to One Good Scare

Due to their interactive nature, video games are an amazing way to give someone a good scare.

 

However, video game horror tropes are frequently inaccessible, leaving people more disappointed than frightened.

 

Dim the lights and put on your blanket, because in this talk, horror fans and accessibility advocates will revisit the rich history of horror media, break down how games try to scare people, how some people are being left out of the fun, and how to instil a sense of dread with alternative accessible and spooky gaming methods.

Meet The Panel

Améliane Chiasson, Square Enix West

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Améliane is Accessibility Lead at Square Enix West, working with multiple teams, projects and experts in order to break accessibility barriers, innovate and move towards a more inclusive future.

Tara Voelker, Xbox

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Tara is Xbox Game Studios Accessibility Lead and Gaming & Disability Community Lead, as well as Co-Director of the Games Accessibility Conference, At Xbox she conceptualizes strategic programs and spearheads development initiatives to establish and promote a superior yet accessible gaming experience.

Morgan Baker, The Odd Gentleman

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Morgan (she/her/hers) is an award-winning Accessibility Lead and Game Designer who has a strong commitment to increasing the accessibility and broadening the inclusivity of interactive media and video games.

 

14:45_Track Two

Developing the Skills of Your UR Team

Xbox Research is a large group, commonly hovering between 40-50 researchers at any given point.

 

This size means that we have URs of divergent skill levels and we have the space to innovate and build new methods (which then needs to be taken to scale via education and process).

"These characteristics are both strengths, and require on-going education, which we aim to provide."

This talk will walk through how we think about this space, provide some examples, and ideally foster a conversation with other teams as I doubt we're alone in needing a solution here (and I'm quite sure we've not solved it).

 

We'll cover:

  • The range of backgrounds we hire in (and how we accommodate that)

  • How we fast-track new URs, often out of academia, into mastering methods & our general tools / process for education

  • Struggles with the mid/senior range and how we handle that

  • How we foster innovation and establish standardization (e.g., how does someone get the space to innovate, how to we assess & ratify the goodness of a new method, and how we ensure consistent application of the new method)

  • Knowledge retention strategies / tools

  • Problems we continue to struggle with (and why they are so annoying).

About The Speaker

Deborah Hendersen is Principal User Researcher, Studio Lead for Publishing, at Xbox. She uses research and expert knowledge about optimizing the human system to help designers improve games. She works with developers across the production cycle; from initial usability studies to first hour and balance play-testing to designing telemetry systems for post-release data collection.

Deborah Hendersen, Xbox

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15:15_Track One

A How-To-Guide for Muslim Representation in Video Games

Osama provides an update to his highly-acclaimed talk on Muslim representation in video games.

 

The talk covers three important topics: firstly, an explanation of why positive representation of Muslims is important, with examples and well-meaning representations that are actually not a good idea. 

 

Secondly, a brief explanation of what Islam is and isn't, debunking misconceptions. For example: Most Muslims don't speak Arabic. Fewer than 15% of Muslims are Arab.

"Need NPC's to fill your world? Why not make some resemble Muslims from all over the world!"

 

And thirdly, the actual How-To-Guide, providing specific, actionable advice on how to incorporate Muslims into games in a positive way. Osama provides advice for devs on consulting with Muslims on their teams or in their circles whenever possible.

About The Speaker

Osama is the Lead Game Designer at Warner Brothers. He's also a game design teacher at Dawson College and a co-host of the Habibis podcast. Osama loves to empower people in expressing themselves through game making. He especially loves to give a voice to marginalized people and causes. He has hosted game jams, workshops and other community activities to this end, which has culminated in co-founding the Montreal Independent Games Awards.

Osama Dorias, Warner Brothers

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15:15_Track Two

Take Control: Building a UR Process at Remedy

Elise Torfs, Remedy

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There are a lot of variable at play when establishing a User Research process in a studio. The size of the studio, the company culture, the designers you work with or the size of the research team can all make for a vastly different User Research set up. How does it look like in a mid-sized multi-project studio working on AAA games with a sole User Researcher?

"Nothing is ever set in stone when it comes to Research processes — and failing is an integral part of building a new discipline in a studio"

 

At Remedy the User Research team was set up in the middle of development of the game Control and establishing a research process had to be done on the fly while actively doing research on a project about to release. With several projects ongoing at different stages of development, the dust never settles and iteration happens in parallel of the research leaving several processes cohabiting at the same time.

 

This talk will showcase an example of how User Research can be set up in an established studio by working closely with all teams and being open to rework processes and workflow as needed.

About The Speaker

Elise Torfs is a Games User Researcher with a background in Digital Anthropology, currently working on several projects at Remedy Games

 
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