A Fireside Chat with John and Mike

John and Mike will host a ‘fireside chat’ where we share a little bit about our experiences in the industry and then solicit and answer questions on a broad array of topics from members of the audience. We’ve been in the industry much longer than average and have watched the GUR discipline go from a few brave pioneers to the thousands of practitioners we have today. We agree on some things and disagree on others, and we hope that seeing how experienced researchers approach and break down problems from different perspectives will be useful to the attendees.

We will also begin the chat with a discussion of our respective approaches to user research and our general philosophies about game design and likely an anecdote or two about our time in the industry.

We hope that attendees will benefit from the opportunity to ask frank questions of senior professionals in the field and gain a deeper understanding of the nuts and bolts work that goes into quality user research. We also hope that seeing disparate perspectives will encourage attendees to appreciate the value in digging deep into the underlying mechanics of different methodologies and to think critically about the pros and cons of various approaches. We both know a lot more now than we knew at the beginnings of our careers, and we’d love to do anything we can to help speed the development process of individuals at all stages of their careers.

  • Category: Panel
Mike Ambinder

Mike Ambinder is a principal experimental psychologist at Valve who joined the company in 2008. 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 work at Valve focuses on the application of knowledge and methodologies from psychology to game design and statistical analysis.

John Hopson

John has been doing research in the games industry for over fifteen years and is currently the Head of Analytics at ArenaNet, makers of Guild Wars 2. Over his career he has been the lead researcher for blockbuster games such as Halo, Age of Empires, Destiny, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Hearthstone. He’s also the author of a number of articles on the intersection of psychology and games, including the infamous ‘Behavioral Game Design’. John holds a Ph.D. in Behavioral and Brain Sciences from Duke University.