2021 #gamesUR Summit Schedule

The #gamesUR Summit features two presentation tracks across two days, covering a breadth of content from the games user research discipline and broader games UX. This year, presentations and panels will cover in-depth case studies, innovative methods and study designs, best practices, accessibility, and more!

Social Events: In addition to leveraging Discord for attendee interactions and conversations, we have a couple social activities in the works!

  • Thursday, May 20 @ 6:30 - 6:50 pm ET: Surprise Event! (Join in on Zoom Track 1)

  • Thursday, May 20 @ 7:00 - 9:00 pm ET: Social Play Sessions Sign Ups!

    • Sign up to play a game(s) with other attendees from with 7 - 8 pm ET and/or 8 - 9 pm ET

    • To sign up for a slot, click the tab representing the game you want to play and enter your name into the desired time slot. Use the designated Google Meet link to communicate with your group while playing!

  • Friday, May 21 @ 5:30 pm ET: Gather.Town Party

Twitter: @gamesUR

Use the hashtags #gamesUR & #GRUX

  • Day 1: Thursday, May 20th

    Join our online Discord community!

    We’ll have dedicated text channels for each talk during the conference. Breakout rooms (interactive session) will happen here.

  • Day 2: Friday, May 21st

    Join our online Discord community!

    We’ll have dedicated text channels for each talk during the conference. Breakout rooms (interactive session) will happen here.


Please check out our Speaker Bios and Abstracts to learn more about our 2021 sessions.

A Reseachers' Guide To Teaching Players (Without More Tutorials)

Sebastian Long (Player Research)

Session Time: 1-1:45pm EST (Day 1 - Track 1)

Thinking Outside the Lab: A Case Study of a Mobile AR Game – Minecraft Earth

Olga Zielinska (Xbox Research)

Session Time: 1-1:45pm EST (Day 1 - Track 2)

Expanding Accessibility Through User Research in The Last of Us Part II

Kevin Keeker (Playstation Studios)

Session Time: 2-3:00pm EST (Day 1 - Track 2)

Hold onto your butts! A rapid fire debate on the virtues and pitfalls of teaching teams to do their own research

Ian Livingston (Blizzard Entertainment), Tom Lorusso (Xbox)

Session Time: 3:15-4:15pm EST (Day 1 - Track 1)

Forest Fires: A Usability Post-Mortem of Root

Joshua Yearsley (Leder Games)

Session Time: 3:15-4:15pm EST (Day 1 - Track 2)

Why doing the boring stuff you think is not your job, really is your job

Emma Varjo (Frozenbyte)

Session Time: 4:30-5:15pm EST (Day 1 - Track 1)

Game Playing Preferences: From Player Types to Player Traits

Maria Karina Arrambide Figueroa, Lennart Nacke (University of Waterloo)

Session Time: 4:30-5:15pm EST (Day 1 - Track 2)

Usability and Accessibility Pro-Tips for Games User Research Lab Design

Ashley Brown (PhD), Entertainment Arts and Engineering/ University of Utah

Session Time: 5:30-6:15pm EST (Day 1 - Track 2)

Players are not lab rats! A retrospection of models concerning user experience

Laureline Chiapello (PhD), UQAC - Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

Session Time: 11:15-12:00pm EST (Day 2 - Track 2)

Climbing mountains - 10 years in accessibility

Steve Saylor, Ian Hamilton

Session Time: 1-2:00pm EST (Day 2 - Track 1)

Terraforming the collaborative UX research landscape: Academic-Industry partnerships for positive change

Pejman Mirza-Babaei (UXR Lab), Samantha Stahlke (Ontario Tech University)

Session Time: 1-2:00pm EST (Day 2 - Track 2)

Borderlands 3 User Research: Revisiting old methods and innovating new approaches in franchise testing

Jonathan A. Cohen (Gearbox Publishing)

Session Time: 2:15-3:15pm EST (Day 2 - Track 1)

Group Therapy for Old-Timers

Jonathan Dankoff

Session Time: 2:15-3:15pm EST (Day 2 - Track 2)


Analytics and Experimentation for Games UR

Andrei Muratov (WB Games)

Session Time: 3:30-4:30pm EST (Day 2 - Track 1)

2021 #gamesUR Summit Sponsors

Thank you to all of our sponsors for supporting the 2021 #gamesUR Summit!


For more than 40 years, Activision has been changing the way people play. With a history of delivering iconic game changing experiences and beloved videogame franchises, including Call of Duty®, Crash Bandicoot™, Pitfall® and Skylanders™ -- -- our focus is to delight and engage our players around the world. The User Research team at Activision helps inform these experiences. Through our playtest labs and research, we listen to player feedback and partner with our teams to create amazing games and incredible content for fans.

Website: activision.com

Electronic Arts

EA UXR exists to provide our development teams a competitive advantage in building games derived from a reliable, scientific understanding of players and their experience with our games. We strive to deliver a deep understanding of players to inform and improve the user experiences of our games, ensuring they are loved by players around the world.

Website: ea.com/


Xbox Research - redefining and driving a new level of customer-obsession through research, activation, measurement, and integration for Xbox and Xbox Game Studios.

Website: xbox.com/


Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Watch_Dogs, Tom Clancy’s video game series, Rayman and Far Cry. The teams throughout Ubisoft’s worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. To deliver these high-quality experiences, the User Research Labs at Ubisoft put the player at the center of the design process through the use of a variety of user-oriented research methodologies, leading to player-informed decision making.

Website: playtest.ubisoft.com/


Interpret is a leading consumer insights agency based in Los Angeles, with offices in San Francisco, Dallas, London, Seoul, Tokyo, and Shanghai. We specialize in researching and analyzing leading edge gaming, entertainment, and digital consumers. Our clients include major global game publishers, developers, and console makers, and our work covers a large variety of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, from gamer segmentations to syndicated trackers, from in-home ethnographies to play tests and focus groups. We have conducted focus groups and game playtests in 20+ countries for our clients on many AAA console/PC games and chart-topping mobile games. Interpret has become the go-to partner for gaming research in the US, Europe, China, Korea, and other key markets.

Website: Interpret.la/

Marketing Systems Group

Does your current playtest research process securely meet your needs?

ARCS (Automated Recruiting and Communication System) is a DIY product evaluation and feedback management platform used for in-house UX, Playtest and Consumer research studies. It brings efficiencies to building, managing and engaging with playtesters, gamers and employees, while maintaining GDPR and CCPA compliance.

ARCS provides the framework, visibility and control of your study workflow. It can manage your projects from participant registration and invitations, pre-qualification, scheduling, data collection, NDA management, and incentive tracking.

You can also incorporate your company’s branding within the ARCS’s registration and panelist portal.Explore how ARCS can help you manage your internal UX and Playtest research studies with ease.

Website: m-s-g.com/Pages/arcs/

Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive is a leading global publisher of strategy and management games. The publisher’s steadily-growing portfolio includes franchises such as Europa Universalis, Cities: Skylines, Crusader Kings, Magicka, and the Hearts of Iron series created by Paradox Development Studio and a worldwide network of partner studios.

Behind the scenes, development is informed and supported by the Insights department, a collaboration between the User Research and Analytics teams. Paradox User Research delivers player-centered insights that support all our developers, all the way from understanding the gaming market to designing and polishing a satisfying player experience.

Website: paradoxinteractive.com/


PeopleFun is a rapidly growing studio where development teams thrive on collaboration, creativity, teamwork and fun. Our mission is to create the best family-friendly casual games in mobile and have a great time doing it! Our current games are played by over 25 million players each month and include Wordscapes, the #1 word game.

Website: peoplefun.com/


PikPok is a leading publisher of fun and addictive games across smartphone, tablet, and desktop. We deliver you great games, where ever and whenever you want to play them, from the bus stop to the living room.

With a portfolio of original, licensed, and third party developed properties, PikPok delivers games that appeal to all consumers with pick-up-and-play gameplay, high-quality art, and immersive audio design which provide rich game experiences. PikPok has released multiple critically and commercially successful games including Rival Stars® Horse Racing, Agent Intercept™, Super Monsters Ate My Condo™, Into the Dead®, Shatter® and more.

Website: pikpok.com/careers/

Player Research

Player Research is the premier games user research partner, enabling gamedev to gain meaningful insight from real players across the world. We contribute to games of all genres, platforms, and audiences, leveraging our expertise in player experience and research methodologies toward the development of truly successful games. In-the-lab, at-home, expert-only. We create and deliver bespoke research to get the player insights you need. Visit playerresearch.com for more.

Website: playerresearch.com/


PlaytestCloud offers a remote playtesting and user research platform for mobile games. Join over 25 games user research teams and hundreds of game studios that already rely on PlaytestCloud to speed up their mobile research.

PlaytestCloud is built for user research teams:

  • 24/7 platform for playtesting
  • No code changes to the games
  • All research logistics are taken care of
  • Our project management team can tailor our services to your methodologies
  • Works with unreleased iOS and Android games

Security and confidentiality are paramount to us and we rely on more than NDAs to keep your games secret: Our software monitors the entire playtest and will remotely disable your game builds once the playtest finishes.

Let us provide the data that powers your research through playtests, diary studies, concept tests, and surveys. Contact us to learn more: hello@playtestcloud.com

Website: playtestcloud.com/

Sony Interactive Entertainment

Sony Interactive Entertainment has a well-established record of leveraging user research to create unparalleled gaming experiences exclusive to PlayStation consoles. With world-class research facilities in the U.S. and U.K., PlayStation researchers work alongside global game teams and leverage a breadth of expertise to consistently raise the bar when it comes to player engagement. Whether through proof of concept testing, usability testing, or exploratory research, we work thoughtfully to foster accessible and inclusive immersion. Our research teams have supported numerous award-winning exclusives including Horizon: Zero Dawn®, God of War®, The Last of Us®, Ghost of Tsushima®, Marvel’s Spiderman®, Dreams®, and Astro’s Playroom®. Research lives at the heart of PlayStation’s products and has helped routinely expand the boundaries of fun. Play has no limits – as we move forward into a new generation of gaming, we continue to hone our craft to ensure that PlayStation is the Best Place to Play.

Website: sie.com

Additional Sponsors