About the difficulties of evaluating, interpreting and collecting game experience – in the article of the chief analyst of Game Analytics Anders Drachen.

Do you know what can help keep users in the game and increase profits? Analyzing the player’s behavior in the game itself, establishing feedback between you and the player, so that you can understand whether he liked the game or not.

But no matter how easy it sounds, in practice it is associated with a number of difficulties.

One of the main difficulties is as follows. What we are doing is called the user experience tract, based on its behavior. Therefore, it is not always possible to talk about correctness. 

However, numerous studies, such as those that are regularly voiced at the Game Developers Conference, prove that the method works. Companies like EA and Microsoft have given examples that in practice, especially with experience, it is possible to greatly simplify the process of evaluating the gaming experience through the analysis of data on user behavior.


A long time ago, in 2005, Nicole Lazzaro and Larry Mellon proposed using “fanmeters” in games, that is, certain behavior indicators that help to find out whether the user is enjoying the game. For example, payments in The Sims Online can be used as an indicator of what players like in the game.  Conversely, if the user is constantly dying, he cannot pass another level of the game in any way, most likely, he does not get a positive experience.

Nevertheless, conclusions about personal experience obtained on the basis of data on behavior may be erroneous. It is impossible to check their accuracy without getting an assessment of the gaming experience. The key to solving this problem is to evaluate the experience and obtain data on behavior.

Breaking Bad

Data on user experience is usually obtained using quantitative and semi-quantitative methods of analysis, for example feedback (i.e. evaluation data), or through their combination with usability-oriented testing. 

Usability testing is usually aimed at measuring the ease of game management. In turn, playability testing determines whether the user is enjoying the game by measuring this parameter using small pop-up surveys. For comparison, the analysis of gameplay indicators reflects how users actually play the game.

The problem of evaluating the gaming experience using surveys is the need to interrupt the process of interaction between the gamer and the game. In the course of scientific research, an alternative method was derived that takes into account, in addition to these indicators, psychophysiological data (for example, pulse). In order for this method to become widespread, a number of practical and financial tasks have yet to be solved. At this stage, the most popular approach remains that promoted by Microsoft Game Studios – simple pop-up surveys and the collection of data on behavior.

However, recent studies of user behavior confirm the possibility of determining the gaming experience based on behavior and even the use of automated systems. Dr. Alessandro Canossa from the University of Information Technology Copenhagen, together with IO Interactive, has developed a model that defines behaviors that correlate with the feeling of frustration among FPS testers Kane & Lynch: Dog Days. This study indicates a possible solution to the problem associated with the simultaneous analysis of behavior and experience.

Editor’s note: The original was written by Anders Drachen, the chief game analyst at Game Analytics. He is one of the most widely published experts on gaming analytics, game data collection, user-targeted research, etc.

Source: blog.gameanalytics.com