Leveling Up Your User Research Skills When You’re a Student: Working with Local Devs and More

This panel will share how current students and recent graduates can successfully work with game developers in their local community to build the necessary skills for working in GUR. Topics discussed include finding indie and/or student teams to work with, building a rapport with these groups, conducting the research, report writing, as well as following up with teams during the post-report stage.

Panel speakers will pull from their individual experiences working with students and independent game developers from their local communities. Aspiring researchers may have access to student developers or local indie devs in their own community. We will share strategies for ‘breaking the ice’ with potential developers to work with. Because game designers and developers – especially students and independents – may not fully understand the value of GUR and what it can offer for their return on investment, collaboration can be a challenge for novice researchers. We will share our personal strategies for building rapport with developers, as it can influence the degree to which the developers may or may not trust a researcher’s feedback.

In sum, this panel will inform attendees how they can start leveling up their user research skills and earn experience for a career in games user research – just as the panel speakers themselves did! Junior job candidates with practical experience in the field can make a big impact on their prospective employers. Student attendees will walk away with better insights on developing entry-level skills and will be equipped to start implementing the advice after the conference. Veteran user researchers will take away knowledge and resources that they can share with junior researchers and/or mentees, which will further benefit the broader games user research community.

  • Category: Panel
Jess Tompkins

Jess Tompkins is a User Research Analyst at Bethesda Softworks. She holds an M.A. in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina and is a Doctoral Candidate in Media Arts and Sciences at Indiana University. She occasionally enjoys making cosplays of video game heroines.

Hannah Murphy

Hannah Murphy is a UX Lab Analyst at Epic Games who has previously conducted freelance games user research in her free time. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Mass Communication and Psychology. Her favorite game genre is survival/horror.

Brianne Stephenson

Brianne Stephenson graduated from the UOIT Game Development and Entrepreneurship program in 2018 and worked in GUR related contracts during her Undergraduate. She now works as a Games User Researcher at Player Research in Montreal. Her first introduction to video games was Unreal Tournament.