October 2017 - December 2018
Ubisoft Toronto develops video games from AAA franchises under the Ubisoft umbrella. In late 2018, it launched its first original IP, Starlink: Battle for Atlas. As a moderator on the user research team, I helped recruit for, conduct, and analyze dozens of playtests for Starlink and other games. Games in development undergo appreciation tests at least monthly, with usability tests and other custom protocols deployed as requested by development teams. The UR lab at Ubisoft Toronto tests games from many of Ubisoft's studios around the world, and performs benchmarking studies on competitors' titles.
Usability testing is conducted on specific game facets or systems (e.g., inventory management) in the early stages of design. 5-12 participants individually spend 60-90 minutes completing structured tasks, thinking aloud, and answering moderator prompts about their experience.
The usability testing space is built to resemble a living room, and participants are instructed over an audio channel from a different room to reduce the perception of being observed.
Observation, game telemetry, questionnaires
20 adult participants play a game in an on-site lab for an extended period of time (3-5 days). Experience survey questionnaires are administered at set intervals (after 1 hour of play, then at the end of each day). Moderators observe a sample of participants, noting recurring gameplay issues or factors of interest (e.g., strategies for defeating key enemies, navigation, use of combat systems).
Qualitative data collected is analyzed using emergent coding to identify major issues, while participant scores yield an overall score for the game out of 5. Game telemetry, including video capture and gaze tracking, is used to triangulate observed issues. Appreciation protocols are standardized to be comparable across games and design stages.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
The Crew 2
Donkey Kong Adventure (MR:KB DLC)
Far Cry 5