Mike Ambinder, Valve Corporation

Making the Best of Imperfect Data: Reflections on an Ideal World

Monday, 20 October 2014, 09:10 – 10:20. Admiral Ballroom, 3rd Floor. Download: Slides.

Mike Ambinder

As we gather data to inform game design choices, we often run into situations where the information we gather is acquired through biased methodologies or incomplete in some fashion or not necessarily suited to answer the specific question at hand.  This talk will speculate on how we could attempt to solve some of these common issues as well as look to the future of what might be possible in Games User Research.  By drawing on relevant findings from psychology, examples drawn from real world experience, advances in technology, and a healthy dose of optimism, this talk will attempt to envision a world where our processes are less biased, our data is more complete, and we are able to address a much broader range of investigations than is currently possible.

Mike Ambinder is an experimental psychologist at Valve, who has worked on Alien Swarm, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, and Team Fortress 2.  He has a PhD in Experimental Psychology (with an emphasis on visual cognition) from the University of Illinois, and a BA in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale University.  His current work at Valve focuses on the application of knowledge and methodologies from psychology to game design.

Jason VandenBerghe, Ubisoft Entertainment S. A.

Engines of Play: How Player Motivation Changes Over Time

Wednesday, 22 October 2014, 09:10 – 10:20. Admiral Ballroom, 3rd Floor. Download: Slides.

Jason VandenBerghe

The talk is a first (probably doomed and certainly biased) attempt by the speaker to fuse his work-to-date on the 5 Domains of Play (a gamer-translation of the Big 5 psychological model) with Scott Rigby & co.’s PENS model (a gamer-translation of Self-Determination Theory). While trying to form this Player Motivational Voltron, we may touch briefly on how a few other existing models might also be compatible this horrid abomination, but the focus of this talk will be squarely on PENS and the 5 Domains. The goal is to describe a map of player motivations that not only talks about player typologies and satisfactions, but that can also describe how player motivations change as they move from first-contact, engagement, and on into nostalgia. It will probably never work. But the attempt should at least be entertaining to watch.

Jason VandenBerghe has been making games for nearly 2 decades. He is currently a Creative Director at Ubisoft (working most recently on Far Cry 3 and on Ghost Recon: Future Soldier). He has been a programmer, producer, designer, and director. His work on gamer motivation and the Big 5 has been pretty well-received, which is a great relief. Jason has worked on bad games, good games, hard-to-make games, and, er, less hard-to-make games, and intends to keep on doing this kind of thing for as long as he can get away with it.