Request an Advanced Career Mentor

Mike Ambinder
Principal Experimental Psychologist
Valve

I’m a Principal Experimental Psychologist at Valve, and I’ve been there about 12 years. My work focuses on the application of knowledge and methodologies from psychology to game design. I also do a bunch of statistical analysis and Brain-Computer Interface/Biofeedback research as well.

At Valve, I’ve worked on Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2, Alien Swarm, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2, Artifact, Dota Underlords, Half-Life: Alyx, some of our hardware projects, and Steam. I’m happy to help answer any questions you have about getting started in the industry, acquiring a useful skillset, analyzing particular problems, or well, anything at all really.

Talk to me about:
Research Methods
GUR Processes
GUR Technology
Career & Personal Development
GUR & Academia
LinkedIn
Suzanne Clanton
Senior User Researcher
EA / Respawn

 

Hi, I am Suzanne, a Senior User Researcher at EA / Respawn. I have been working in the industry for almost 3 years. Prior to that I was a licensed Clinical Psychologist with my own private therapy practice (10+ years of professional psych work). I took a leap of faith and transitioned into the games industry and have been loving it. I have a PsyD In Clinical Psychology. 

 

Talk to me about:
GUR Methods
GUR Processes
GUR Technology and Tools
GUR for specific platforms & genres - mobile games
Business and personal skills
Transitioning from a psychology career to games user research
LinkedInTwitter
Lanie Dixon
User Researcher
Ubisoft

I am currently a User Researcher at Ubisoft Montreal and a former member of the Steering Committee for the SIG. Before I arrived in Montreal, I was the Co-Founder and Director of User Research of Octothorpe, an indie games studio based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with small teams with even smaller budgets as well as large teams on AAA titles. I have experience making test plans & strategies, scraping test plans, providing insights and communicating with development teams, and most things in between.

I am always happy to share my journey into GUR, thoughts about graduate school, generally, what GUR means to me, and of course answer any of your questions. Talk to me if you are interested in chatting about where to get started while still in University, as well as early career advice and professional development. I will probably end up sharing some cat photos and asking you more questions than you ask me but if I cannot help you, I can certainly point you in the direction of someone that can!

Talk to me about:
GUR Methods
GUR Processes
Working in small teams/indie
Transitioning from indie to AAA
Tech & Tools
Career & Personal Development
GUR & Academia

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Adams Greenwood-Ericksen
Director, User Research
Activision

I’ve been working on games since the mid aughts in the academic, indie, and AAA space, and I’ve been an underpaid contractor, a professor, director of an academic UR lab, a UX consultancy business founder, and a central team manager at a AAA publisher. I’ve made lots of interesting mistakes in each of those roles along the way, and I’m happy to share my experience to help you avoid them while you’re developing your career!

 

Talk to me about:

Research Methods

UR Entrepreneurship

GUR Processes and Procedures

GUR in Academia

Team Development and Training

Career & Personal Development

LinkedIn
Alistair Greo
User Researcher
Independent consultant
For over 10 years I’ve been in the games industry working with a variety of clients - from one-man indies all the way to multinational AAA studios. I used to help run Player Research, a GUR consultancy, and I’ve recently set off on my own as an independent consultant.

I’m particularly keen to increase representation in the GUR space, so if you’re on the outside looking in feel free to reach out, I’ll be happy to help.

I’m based in Brighton, UK.
 
Talk to me about:
Games User Research Methods
GUR Processes
Career & Personal Development
Diversity & Inclusion
Consultancy Skills
GUR Strategy
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Ashley Guajardo
Associate Professor
University of Utah
Howdy, my name is Dr. Ashley Guajardo and I am an Associate Professor at Entertainment Arts and Engineering, University of Utah where I teach games user research and run a user research lab. I founded the Games User Research lab at the University of Utah to provide the space and resources to gather biometric, analytic, and playtesting data for student games and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have been involved with the GRUX SIG since 2017 where I served on the steering committee as well as volunteered for several Summit committees. In 2022 I co-directed the #gamesUR Summit with Hannah Murphy.
 
In addition to my work directing a small user research lab, I have been publishing academic research for over 15 years, teaching for over 10, and navigating university politics and funding for even longer. I am additionally a member of the University of Utah Institutional Review Board where I review research study proposals for adherence to USA federal research ethics guidelines- it might sound dull but it is actually very interesting. I would be a great mentor for you if you're interested in: research ethics, grad school/ getting a PhD, pursuing a career in academia (and still studying games!), managing academic advisors and supervisors, Games User Research methods, qualitative methods and analysis, and the best dog friendly hikes in Utah.
 
Talk to me about:
GUR Methods
GUR Processes
GUR Technology and Tools
GUR for specific platforms & genres: PC and VR
Business and Personal skills
GUR & Academia
If you're interested in an academic career where you still test games
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Carly Hines
Sr. UX Research
Sony PlayStation

Hi there! I’m a Senior UX Researcher for Sony PlayStation’s San Diego Studio, where I spend most of my time conducting research on our yearly Triple-A baseball title, MLB The Show. I’ve been at PlayStation for about 6 years now, and aside from my primary work on MLB The Show, have also had opportunities to work on a number of different projects including virtual reality titles, free-to-play titles, mobile games & apps, and even system software research.

I have a BA in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Masters in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University.

I love to talk about anything UX, but some of the things that I’m most passionate about are the power of combining qualitative and quantitative data, relationship-building with stakeholders, data analysis processes, and the creation of user mental models/frameworks from complex data. I’m also always happy to talk about getting started in the industry and getting your foot in the door (I started here at PlayStation as an intern and have learned a lot along the way!). I look forward to sharing my experiences and learning from you, too!

 

Talk to me about:

GUR Methods

GUR Processes

GUR Technology and Tools

GUR for specific platforms & genres - Console, Sports games

Business and Personal skills

GUR and Academia

LinkedInWebsite
Dan Jenrette
Lead User Researcher
Blizzard Entertainment

I’m a Lead on the Games User Research team at Blizzard where I’ve been for over 9 years.  I began my career at Google supporting many features (Gmail, Ads, Website Optimizer, Video Chat,etc.).  I’ve had an opportunity to work on many types of products whether it’s websites, apps, or consumer products (TVs, DvD players, Roku, etc.), but the majority of my research career has been in the video game space.  I started at Blizzard on the Battle.net team helping launch the first bnet app, supporting our various websites, customer support portal, and many corporate applications.  I then transitioned to supporting Game Development and have experience building research teams for all of our main franchises (WoW, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Diablo) from the ground up.  I’ve worked with feature level designers up to game directors, in pre-production, production, and live/post launch phases of development.  I also have experience running international research (APAC, EU, NA).   

 

I really enjoy helping others get into the Games User Research field or help them learn more about what it’s like working as a Games User Researcher.

 

Talk to me about:

GUR Methods

GUR Processes

GUR Technology and Tools

GUR for specific platforms & genres: PC mostly, but can also dip into console and mobile, MMO, ARPG, TCG, and FPS.

Business and Personal skills

LinkedIn
Patrick Joynt
Senior Researcher
Riot Games
Hi all! I'm a researcher with about fifteen years of experience in both direct research and team leadership. I have split my time between both in-house (with experience at Amazon, Warner Brothers, and these days Riot) and as an external partner (spending my time at Magid, VGM, and my own shop). My focus as an individual contributor is on qualitative work, although I have strong feelings on survey optimization as well. That noted, I'm not going to replace anyone with a statistics degree, quant-wise. I've built and led research teams ranging from the proverbial team of one up to a few dozen researchers and support staff, so please feel free to reach out to me on team building/management elements as well. 
Talk to me about:
GUR Methods
GUR for specific platforms & genres: console / console-like PC games
Business and Personal skills
GUR & Academia
 
 
Celestia Koh
User Research Project Manager
Ubisoft

Hellu~!! My name is Celestia and I’m 15 years deep into games research; 5 years in a user research role. Unsurprisingly, my background is in research and academia. I have a B.App.Sci in Psychology from RMIT (Melbourne, Australia), and two Master degrees from Lund University (Sweden); a MSc in Psychology Research and a MSc in Entrepreneurship. As a games user researcher, I have worked with entrepreneurial start-ups, consultancies, investors, publishers, and developers in the games industry.

 

I’m currently the User Research Project Manager (URPM) for Ubisoft Reflections (Newcastle, United Kingdom). Previously, I was a User Researcher at Paradox Interactive (Stockholm, Sweden), and also did some work as a Senior User Researcher with Nordisk Games (Copenhagen, Denmark). 

In my current role as a URPM, my expertise is in relationships, communication, building trust, and project stalking. I am responsible for driving the business value of qualitative insights alongside quantitative data in GUR- through coffee breaks, professional friendships...and lots and lots of informal, candid chatting. As a mixed-methods researcher, I specialise in research methodology, data triangulation, analysis, and asking the right questions. Therefore, my work experience history comes with ALL THE THINGS *fistpump*. Some of my day to day activities have included: conducting user research studies, delivering insights, communicating with global development teams, drafting documentation, developing UX strategy plans, and engaging company-wide initiatives.

Having said all this, I’m a huge advocate of the growth mindset. So regardless of what level you are in your career, I expect I’ll learn a thing or two from you as well :)

Talk to me about:

Games User Research Methods

Career and Professional Development

Academia

Psychology

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Marcin Lella
Senior User Researcher
King

I am a Senior Player Researcher at King, helping players crush those candies. Prior to King, I’ve solved user problems in different contexts ranging from looking at mobile input experiences at Microsoft, launching a new physical and ebook reading product at Amazon, and designing software for finance professionals at Thomson Reuters / Refinitv. I have worked in market research, analytics, and product management before making the switch to user research full-time so I am happy to talk about alternative career paths and perspectives on user research.

 

Talk to me about:

Games user research methods

GUR processes

GUR Technology and Tools

GUR for specific platforms & genres - mobile games

Career & personal development

GUR and Academia

Transitioning to games research from other career paths

Differences between gaming industry and big tech

LinkedIn
Sebastian Long
Managing Director
Player Research

Seb is an experienced Games User Researcher, and Director of Player Research. He has contributed to hundreds of videogames, including games from LEGO, Sonic, FIFA, Harry Potter, Talking Tom and Star Wars—and to seminal titles including CONTROL, Elden Ring, Life Is Strange 2, and World of Tanks.

Talk to me about:
GUR Methods
GUR Processes
GUR Technology and Tools
GUR for specific platforms & genres: I’ve contributed to just about everything at some point. PC, Console, Mobile, Tablet, Toys to life, VR, AR, Singing, Guitar.
Business and Personal skills
Business leadership
Event Running
Branding
Company culture
WebsiteTwitter
Tania Martelanc
Sr. UX Researcher
King

My career in games started many years ago playing Counter-Strike professionally, taking part in tournaments and organising them. This fun experience led me to do a BA in Advertising, followed by 2 Masters. I have a MSc in Marketing Management and a MSc in Consumer Psychology. 

I worked at Bossa Studios as a Research & Insights Lead, leading qualitative and quantitative studies for games, such as Worlds Adrift, Hogwash, Surgeon Simulator, Surgeon Simulator 2 and I Am Fish. I also worked closely with the Prototype Team to identify the gameplay potential of the “jamlets” that were created during Game Jams. ‘I Am Fish’ was one of them!

I currently work at King as a Senior UX Researcher, leading research studies for the game teams and helping inform them on player experience. I’m part of the Portfolio Games team, consisting of five King live mobile games: Pet Rescue, Candy Crush Friends, Farm Heroes, Candy Crush Jelly and Bubble Witch 3. 

This year I’ve  started a very exciting research project about APX (Accessible Player Experience) at King. The studies aim to detect accessible barriers King players are facing and understand how we can make our mobile games more inclusive. This project is my big passion and for anyone looking to gain understanding on APX, I’d be really glad to share the knowledge I’ve gained so far.

I’d be happy to discuss your career path and answer any questions you might have about the games industry. In addition I would be happy to discuss how you can find your passion and niche within an industry you already love like I have with my APX project.

Talk to me about:

APX (Accessible Player Experience)

Games User Research methods

PC, Mobile and Videogames

Career and Professional development

Academia

LinkedIn
Chase Meusel
Senior Researcher
Netflix Games
Hi! I'm a Senior Researcher at Netflix Games and a lifelong lover of all things games. 
 
I grew up with LAN parties and dropped out of my first semester of college grinding Grand Marshal in WoW (which I failed to get).  My PhD is in Human Computer Interaction where I used psychophysiological sensors (AKA gadgets strapped to your body) in simulators, VR, emotion detection, and games.  My primary research was working with combine operators in simulators and in the field for John Deere, which works out well when you live in Iowa and come from a family of farmers.
 
My industry start was in the Windows UR group where I worked on identity, rewards, family, and store.  Most of my time at Microsoft was with Xbox Research where I was fortunate to work with amazing people across a variety of products.  I established the Xbox Cloud Gaming (aka xCloud) research program, supported multiple studios, and championed accessibility throughout.
 
Currently I'm at Netflix Games leading platform research working on a variety of foundational efforts for our team. 
 
Nothing I've accomplished has been done alone and I have been incredibly fortunate to have wonderful mentors, curious teammates, and great leads along the way.  I will happily chat about almost any topic, but I am only qualified to speak on a handful of them. ;)
 
Talk to me about:
GUR Methods
GUR Processes
GUR Technology and Tools
GUR for specific platforms & genres: Xbox, mobile, general platform (input, shell UI/UX, identity, social, store / commerce, family)
Business and Personal skills
GUR and Academia
LinkedInTwitter
Krista Parham
Senior User Researcher
Kabam

 I'm a senior researcher at Kabam, a mobile games company where I lead research for two of our titles - Disney Mirrorverse and Marvel Contest of Champions. Before that, I worked at EA where I led research for The Sims, Dragon Age, and FIFA. With that variety of titles, I'm happy to talk about different methods for different genres.

Talk to me about:

Creating positive gaming communities

GUR for specific platforms & genresL Mobile vs HD research, sports, rpgs, sandbox/unstructured games

Business skills

GUR Methods

GUR Processes

GUR Technology and Tools

Business and Personal skills

 

LinkedIn
Rich Ridlen
Lead of GUR org
Meta Quest (Oculus)
I've been conducting research for about 20 years, 10 of those in video games, including my first internship. I founded the games user research org at Electronic Arts and am doing the same thing now at Meta Quest (Oculus). I've also worked outside of games, most notably at YouTube where I lead research on YouTube Music and YouTube VR.
 
I went to grad school to get a Masters in UXR and Information Design, but got an internship and then started getting work two-thirds through and so never went back. I'm well versed in a variety of methods, including being an expert in longitudinals and love scrappy efforts and always keeping my moderation and research skills sharp. Lastly, while I love research, it's not the total of my being and believe in living a balanced life: I write stories, get tattoos, and hang out with my wife, my kid, my dog, and my cat as much as I can. 
 
Talk to Me About:
Mixed methods research
GUR Processes
GUR Technology and Tools
GUR for specific platforms & genres: VR, Console - all genres
Business and Personal skills
Climbing the ladder as an Independent Contributor (IC)
Making the move into management, pluses and minuses
Moving in and outside of the industry
Data visualization 
VR games
Tattoos 
TwitterLinkedIn
Sarah Romoslawski
Freelance
Formerly Glu Mobile and Virta Health
I have been involved in games for 12+ years conducting user research as well as building research teams and processes.  I have worked across consumer electronics, children's media, mobile games, and healthcare.

Talk to me about:

Games User Research methods

GUR Processes

Mobile Games

Building Research Teams

User Research Tools

Career and personal development

LinkedInTwitterWebsite
Jason Schklar
Founder
UX Is Fine!

Experienced product and studio leader. Shipped games across many devices, genres, and business models. Have worked at a variety of game publisher and development studios (Microsoft Games, Big Huge Games, Zynga, Disney Mobile). 

My “bat power” is improving games at the speed of development. I help teams prioritize UX goals, assess risks, and adjust schedule and development processes to better integrate rapid iterative UX feedback and direction.

These days I help teams "find the fun" and drive better UX into their games by mentoring individual contributors, guiding team leadership, and providing feedback and direction on products and processes.

Happy to chat about Publisher/Developer Relationships, Working Effectively with Development Teams, Mentoring UX Designers, and Life as a Consultant.

Talk to me about:
Career & Personal Development
Game Design
Game Production
Publisher/Developer Relationships
Working Effectively with Development Teams
Mentoring UX Designers
Life as a Consultant
LinkedInTwitter
Elizabeth Schmidlin
Sr User Researcher
PlayStation

  I got my PhD in Human Factors Engineering from Texas Tech University, my dissertation work was on affordance perceptions when tele-operating robots. Following my graduate work I joined Sony PlayStation where I’ve been able to work on incredible titles like Horizon, Days Gone, Far Point, Firewall, Spider-man, and The Last of Us Part II!

Talk to me about:

Games User Research Methods

GUR Processes

Tech and Tools

Console, open world, first person, narrative, action adventure, RPG games

Career and professional development

Academia

LinkedIn
Jim Stanhope
Senior UX Researcher
Electronic Arts

I am currently a Senior UX Researcher at Electronic Arts supporting Maxis.  My focus is on supporting early stage incubation projects using a hypothesis driven R&D process.  I also study online gaming communities and multiplayer gameplay.

Talk to me about:

Games User Research methods

GUR Processes

Mobile Games

Life Simulation games

Career and personal development

Transitioning to games research from other career paths

LinkedIn
Matt Streit
Director of User Research
PeopleFun

I've been working on games since 2008, having helped to build games for PC, console, and mobile. In addition to coaching, mentoring, and building departments I am particularly interested in methodology, segmentation, and understanding how we can better know and develop for each of the subgroups who enjoy our games.

Talk to me about:
Research Methods
GUR Processes
Console, PC, & F2P
Career & Personal Development
GUR & Academia
LinkedIn
Nicolaas VanMeerten
Director of Insights
GLITCH

Nicolaas VanMeerten is the Director of Insights and Co-Founder at GLITCH. Nicolaas is a leader in the fields of data science, user experience research, and player behavior. He has served on the Steering Committee of the Games User Research SIG and is combining his analytics work at GLITCH with his PhD program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities on player engagement patterns in video games.

Talk to me about:
Research Methods
Tech & Tools
Mobile and PC
Career & Personal Development
GUR & Academia
Contract Work
LinkedInTwitter
Elizabeth Zelle
User Research Manager
Amazon Games

Hi! I'm Elizabeth Zelle, currently the User Research Manager at Amazon Games and living that WFH life from a suburb of Dallas, TX. I've been in the games industry since 2008, with over a decade in games user research. I have a breadth of experience working with both developer and publisher stakeholders on a wide variety of genres and platforms, can speak to challenges I've faced as a woman in the games industry, like to wax poetic about the philosophy of survey design, and am an undercover marine biologist.

Talk to me about:

GUR Methods
GUR Processes
Console & PC Games (Genres: Open World & MMO)
Career & Personal Development
Women in Games
TwitterLinkedIn
Jordan Lynn
Senior User Researcher
Amazon Games

Ahoy GURlings, my name is Jordan (he/him) and I've been a User Researcher for 12 years now, working across the industry in console, PC, and mobile spaces. My entire career has been built on the principle of helping game teams realize their visions for design and implementation through iterative testing and providing a voice for the player. I've served on the Steering Committee of the IGDA SIG as well as serving as Director of the GUR Summit several years ago. I've primarily learned my way through my career by making mistakes (usually face-first into a brick wall) and then iterating processes until those mistakes of yesterday become the best practices of tomorrow. Let me tell you all about my mistakes so you can dodge some of those brick walls too!

Talk to me about:

GUR Methods
GUR Processes
Mobile, Console, & PC Games
Career & Personal Development
Ben Nelligan
Senior UX Researcher
Electronic Arts

I am a Senior UX Researcher at Electronic Arts, currently focused on leading research efforts for Maxis Studio. Before moving to Maxis, I spent several years leading research for EA's mobile sports portfolio, as well as smaller projects across several franchises. Prior to my time in games user research, I was an academic researcher with a PhD in psychological and brain science (JHU), conducting spatial cognition research at the University of Notre Dame.  I'm always happy to chat about all things research and games.

Talk to me about:

GUR Methods
GUR Processes
GUR Technology & Tools
Mobile & PC Games (Genres: Sports & Simulation)
Career & Personal Development
GUR in Academia
LinkedIn