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[Diary Studies] UR Lab Interview – Part #1

With all the buzz regarding the Diary Study going on, we thought it would be a great opportunity to simply get some more information for you about: What is a user research lab? How does it work? What kind of playtests are organized and how is all the gathered data used?

So, we sat down with User Research Analyst Janine of the UR Lab in Düsseldorf to answer some of these questions for you.

What is the UR Lab?

The UR Lab frequently conducts playtests and studies for our projects and is often the first intersection point of players and games. We combine high-technology with common sense in a way that helps dev teams to improve the usability and user experience of their games during all stages of production.

Where are you located?

We are located in the Ubisoft Düsseldorf studio where we offer our dev teams a modern test setup (eye trackers, current gen PCs, etc.) that is built according to current scientific findings. We do our best to welcome our testers and to make them feel comfortable in our lab.

Are there several UR Labs? If yes, do they have different tasks/foci?

Yes, there are several Ubisoft UR Labs worldwide. These teams focus on improving the usability and user experience of our games. Each lab has varying expertise, often depending on the projects they usually work on. Labs stay in close contact with each other to benefit from the others’ study findings and methodologies, and to spread their professional competence.

Do these research studies only happen pre-launch or also post-launch?

We do both. User research and usability testing should start as early as possible to find issues during early stages of development. This also helps dev teams get to know their target group even better while developing the game.

At the same time, user research does not stop after a game is released, as there is always room for improvement. For instance, we also jump in when DLC or other new content, is created to guarantee the same quality as the main game.

Are you also analysing user data from live games or only hosting playtests directly in-house?

The UR Lab also encompasses Game Analytics and we work closely with our data analysts. They analyse data from our live games and support the development teams with their findings. Usually they are responsible for quantitative data, while we provide teams with qualitative insights. Combined, we are able to support our dev teams with the extensive data they currently need to make decisions.

How can I take part in a user research study? Are you only inviting people from the area?

If you are interested in being invited, you need to register at https://playtest.ubisoft.com/bluebyte/enUS . There you can pick the UR Lab that is nearest to you. Keep in mind that you must be able to show up at the studio in person, to participate in a test.

When a user test is scheduled, you will get a preselection mail from us. This will redirect you to a survey that you need to complete, in order to apply for the study. In the survey, we ask you to answer some questions about your gaming habits like how much you play or what your favourite games are.

Following the survey, we will analyse your answers and pick the candidates that best match the target group. Sometimes we are looking for people who spent a lot of time with a specific game, and sometimes we are looking for the opposite. So no worries if you are not a hardcore gamer!

As soon as you’ve been selected, you will get a final invitation mail from us, and we will be happy to welcome you to our studio!

We do not only invite people from the area either. We invite those, who have applied and are willing to come to us. Sometimes we get testers who have travelled for hours to visit us, which is always an honour!

This was the first part of the interview. Stay tuned for next week when we talk about a typical day of a tester and how the results are summarized.

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