At Keywords Studios, we know that ensuring quality gaming experiences is key to player retention and, therefore, our clients’ success.
Our Game Science services and technologies help publishers and developers optimize engagement and retention and drive player acquisition, increase monetization and accelerate payback periods, enabling them to meet their success metrics.
Recently we spoke with two members of the team at Player Research, one of our Keywords Game Science studios, to get their insights on working in this fascinating field. Chloe Snell and Megane Lacroix are both game user researchers and are based in Brighton, UK.
Here is what they had to say.
Tell us about your role.
Chloe: My job involves working on many different games in development to facilitate a positive player experience through research, as well as help to deliver developers’ design intent and vision for their games.
Megane: My job is to help and advice game designers and developers about how players play their game and what they think about it.
The main objective is to test games in development with real players to capture their gaming experience and analyse what are the good practices or improvements that can be made. It can be about the game’s usability as well as the players’ appreciation.
How did you get into Game Science for video games? What inspired your career path?
Chloe: I loved studying psychology at college, I found it so interesting and inspiring and it was a great fit for me. I decided to do an undergraduate psychology degree and throughout my time at uni[versity] I applied my psychology work and research to video games wherever I could. Games are also something I love and, to me, that has to be at the core of the work I do – I have to really care about it.
I got to thinking ‘wouldn’t it be cool if there was some kind of way of merging psychology with games as a job’ and a quick Google search led me to discovering games user research (GUR) as a career and I thought it was too good to be true. As soon as I found out that GUR existed, it was all I set my mind to and due to luck, good timing, and a bit of hard work it worked out perfectly!
Megane: I always wanted to work in video games, as it’s one of my hobbies and I was good at biology in high school. I looked up what I could do that would link both worlds and I saw that neurosciences could be applied in games.
So I took biology at university and studied until getting my first year of master in neurosciences. During this same year I heard about ergonomics and user research and that’s when I decided to do my second year of my masters in sociology and ergonomics. And then I got my internship at Ubisoft Paris and it’s how my career started!
What have you gained from working in Game Science for Keywords?
Chloe: I’ve gained access to be around some of the most incredible and inspiring people. My colleagues at Player Research are just on another level and have taught me so much about our industry and our work. I’m very grateful to be a sponge, soaking up their knowledge and positivity.
Megane: I’ve gained a lot of experience since I arrived at Player Research. Of course, I took with me the knowledge and practice I got from working at Ubisoft beforehand.
However, since being in Keywords I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about client relations and game studio communication, about planning and scoping difference pieces of research and about applying difference methods during projects than just pure playtests.
What do you like best about working for Keywords Studios?
Chloe: I like the freedom we are afforded as a company to do our own thing, even though we’re a part of the larger Keywords network. The environment at Player research doesn’t feel corporate at all and we’re allowed to conduct our work in a way that suits our team.
We have such a commitment to a good work-life-balance here and I heavily appreciate that our company treats every person as an equal with the same rights and respect to have their thoughts heard and considered.
Megane: It feels great to know we’re all connected by the same passion and that we can contact people from a different departments or roles than ours to get their advice, if needed.
Tell us an interesting fact that people may not know about you
Chloe: I have grapheme-color synaesthesia, which means I ‘see’ all numbers in my mind in a colour associated to them. For example, my experience of synaesthesia means that ‘0’ is white, ‘1’ is black, ‘2’ is green, ‘3’ is red and so on.
So, there are certain numbers that inherently feel good or bad to me based on their colours. I had a very surprising awakening one day in math class when I asked my friend, ‘What colour are your numbers?’ and she looked at me like I’d said the most nonsensical thing – and then I realised it wasn’t something everyone has!
Megane: I love sports and CrossFit, especially pushing myself by lifting heaving weights.
And finally what is your favourite video game and why?
Chloe: Ahh, always so tough to choose just one! I’m going to cheat and say Skyrim and Life is Strange for different reasons! Skyrim is just such an incredible world to explore, I love the freedom afforded to your play style and the magic of finding a new area or unexpected quest is like nothing else.
Life is Strange, on the other hand, is very important to me and I think it’s such a trailblazer for narrative games. It’s such a deep and emotional experience. I have so much love for the characters, its queer representation and the immersive snapshot of the world it creates.
Megane: This is the hardest question one can ever ask me! If I really have to choose just one, it’d be Far Cry 3. This is the game I felt the most engaged from all the games I played until now (with some exceptions) as the villain was really well played and charismatic, the story was interesting and I loved the open world.
At the time it was kind of a new type of game for me. These last few months, however, I’m more into smaller games, especially FrostPunk.
If you are interested in a Game Science role at Keywords Studios, you can find current open positions on our Careers page.