The Science of Fun: Data-driven Game Development
by Alex Turcan & Ruan Pearce-Authers
Games are crafted to provide unique experiences, but players don't always behave as you'd expect. In this session, Alex Turcan (@AleTurcan) and Ruan Pearce-Authers (@returnString) from Dambuster Studios will explain how they combine the data from biometric sensors and in-game monitoring with scientific methods to evaluate and enhance the user experience. They will also do a live demonstration of tracking a player's emotional reactions while playing Homefront: The Revolution (volunteer gamers will be required!).
Alexandra Țurcan (@AleTurcan) is the Deep Silver GamesLab Manager at Dambuster Studios. She has a PhD in the psychology of sarcasm (no, really!) and has only joined the games industry one year ago, starting off as a Data Scientist. She quickly realised that the huge amount of available gameplay data should be leveraged to objectively assess player experience. She threw in the mix a few psychological research methods, like eye-tracking and skin conductance, and that is how GamesLab was born – a research lab that marries the rigour of science with the fun of video games, working towards data-driven game development.
Ruan Pearce-Authers (@returnString) is the senior online services engineer at Deep Silver Dambuster Studios where he architects the highly scalable servers that power modern AAA games, comprising everything from internal data processing pipelines to game servers that connect you with your friends. He’s also in charge of technology for the publisher’s user research lab, Deep Silver GamesLab, integrating player biometrics like skin conductance and eye-tracking into gameplay data. Aside from his main specialisation in online development, he also did a stint as a gameplay programmer, focusing on animation and AI.
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