What is GRUX?
GRUX puts player psychology, player feedback and player data at the heart of game development.
GRUX is a vibrant community of professional User Researchers, User Experience Designers and other professional disciplines working in videogame development.
Many roles in modern game development engage with players or design for players:
Game design, marketing, code, writing, art, UI design, audio staff—all continually collaborate to implement and communicate the intended gaming experience for players.
Community management, data science, accessibility and research staff—all continually collaborate to produce player data and player feedback toward a superb experience for players.
GRUX Online is an online event hosted by volunteers from the IGDA GRUX SIG. The group also hosts the #GamesUR conference, a mentorship scheme, an annual salary survey, and other initiatives.
Knowing what good data looks like and the foundations of player psychology can help all game developers in their quest for quality work, whatever their job title.
GRUX in gamedev today
User Experience Design—sometimes called 'UI/UX Design'—is a growing discipline of exceptional designers with the ability to ideate, co-implement and iterate user interfaces in games.
UX Designers are the sense-makers, tackling ever-shifting game design, ever-improving technology, complex game mechanics and gamestates, and the complexities of a target audience, and delivering a consistent, beautiful and usable interface for players.
Games User Experience professionals might come from an art background, graphic design, a human-computer interaction background, or game design background. Because of this, the roles themselves can vary based on the person and the studio.
However, all UXD roles utilise a true understanding of human psychology and behaviour, as well as the operational approaches to delivering great design at the speed of game development.
Wireframing, prototyping, creating user flows, and designing the information architecture of various parts of the game are all common practices in UX Design.
Games user Research is a core part of modern game development. Their goal is to help game designers reach their experiential goals by truly understanding players.
Some studios have big GRUX teams with different members specializing in the different aspects of both Games user Research and Games User eXperience design, while others have people wearing multiple hats do this work on top of other duties.
In Games User Research, the practice of user testing is probably the most well-known.
User tests—or 'playtests' or 'usability tests'—bring together a representative group of players to be observed playing a prototype game. Researchers take detailed unbiased analyses of their behaviour, both in- and out-of-the-game, are taken and compared against the designers' intended behaviour:
Did players find the fun? If not, what needs to change?
Observations are combined with structured interviews and questionnaires, enrichening our understanding of players behaviour, cognition and emotion.
There are tens of tried-and-true approaches to capturing player data and player feedback: analytics, engagement diaries, biometrics, surveys, discussion groups, interviews, sentiment analysis... and many others.
Games User Research professionals help development teams navigate this important space: designing research, executing and analysing data, toward more rational, deliberate and successful game development.
Games User Research is a specialized field that seeks to understand how players perceive and interact with games and why. Like UX Design, there are many paths to becoming a Researcher, and in small companies one person can find themselves responsible for both UX design and user research.
The #gamesUR Conference has served games user researchers with knowledge-sharing and networking for more than a decade.
The GRUX Community
The Games Research and User Experience SIG of the IGDA (GRUX SIG) is the largest community of GRUX professionals in the world
The group has held an annual conference in North America every year since 2010, following the foundation of the group in 2009, with four additional conferences in Europe, 2015 to 2018.
The GRUX-SIG group is comprised of more than 1000 professional researchers, game developers, and academics, all aiming to understand players and help developers create the experiences that they aim to deliver.
Pioneered by Atari in the early 1970s, Games User Research came of age in the 1990s at Sony with titles such as Crash Bandicoot 2, and later at Microsoft Studios in the USA, on the seminal series Age of Empires.
Now there are hundreds of Games User Researchers working worldwide. Commonly they're established in larger studios and publishers including Activision, EA, Epic Games, Microsoft, Riot Games, Rovio, Scopely, Sony, and Ubisoft.
Games User Experience Design is a newer classification, bringing together roles and responsibilities that for decades had been owned by Game Design, Art or Production staff.
As games get bigger, more expensive, and with grander design goals, the discipline of UX Design has grown to meet the need for deliberate design and modern development strategy.
Want to learn more about player psychology & UX in games?
Talks and Videos:
GRUX in Academia
'Games Research' is also an academic area which seeks to better understand what motivates players, how their actions can be explained or predicted, or even just to find new ways to capture and use data about players to help with game design.
Games Research relates to psychology, human factors and ergonomics, user experience design, interaction design, computer science, and many other fields. While work and output in academia and the industry can be quite different, there is a lot of potential for synergy between the two.
Games user researchers and user experience professionals and academics in all of these fields come together around a love of gaming, players, and making awesome games.
The GRUX Online Team
This event is volunteer-run by a small team of passionate people!
GRUX Online Chair and Host, Emma Varjo
Programme & Web Lead, Sebastian Long
Brand and Visual Identity, Louise Tollisen
Website, Lauran Jansen
Social Event, Raphael Leroy