Interview

Celia Hodent on the importance of cognitive science and a UX framework to improve your game

There is no guaranteed formula for crafting games but clear ingredients do exist

Celia Hodent on the importance of cognitive science and a UX framework to improve your game

The next round of PocketGamer.biz MasterClasses are only just around the corner and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for you this time.

If this is your first time hearing about our MasterClasses, they’re a series of deep-dive workshop sessions that take an in-depth look at practical games design topics. We work with the finest industry experts to create professional, half-day activities featuring tutorials, lectures and breakout groups, all accessible from the comfort of your home office.

On June 8-10, you can expect to explore a range of key topics, from game pitching and mastering data, to live ops and UX. Today, we'd like to introduce Celia Hodent, a leading Game UX Consultant specialising in the application of cognitive science. Hodent will lead a session titled “Cognitive Science and a UX framework to Improve Your Game” on Wednesday, June 9th from 16:00 - 19:00 (UK time).

Celia Hodent is recognized as a leader in the application of user experience (UX) and cognitive science in the game industry. Celia holds a PhD in psychology and has over 12 years of experience in the development of UX strategy and processes in video game studios.

Pocket Gamer: What does your role entail?

Celia Hodent: My current role is to help studios (small, medium or large) offer the best experience possible to their players. I work with developers to apply a UX strategy which will result in an increased likelihood of their games to be engaging and successful.

What topic will you be covering in your MasterClass?

Anyone can benefit from knowing more about the brain and about user experience

This MasterClass will delve into how the human brain works in terms of perception, attention, and memory (critical elements for usability), and offers guidelines to significantly improve the experience of a game, as perceived by its target audience, not only in terms of usability, but also in terms of engagement.

Who is this MasterClass for?

Anyone can benefit from knowing more about the brain and about user experience. This MasterClass will however benefit designers, artists, gameplay/UI programmers, producers, and junior UX practitioners even more.

Why is it important for your games industry peers to gain a deeper understanding of your chosen topic?

Making fun and engaging video games is hard, and with thousands of games being released every year, the competition is fierce. Although there is no guaranteed formula for crafting games, some clear ingredients do exist, which game developers can use to make their own successful recipe. User experience (UX) and cognitive science combined provide developers with those ingredients - across all types of games, platforms used, or target audiences - to guide them along the development process. Experiencing a game happens in the player's mind. This is why understanding the human brain (especially its limitations) while it perceives and interacts with a game is paramount to accomplish faster and more efficiently your developers' goals.

Tell us a little bit about the key takeaways people can expect from the session.

Although there is no guaranteed formula for crafting games, some clear ingredients do exist, which game developers can use to make their own successful recipe

The key takeaways people can expect from this session are:

  • The main characteristics and limitations of the human brain (in terms of perception, attention, memory), the three main learning processes, and how this knowledge can help game development.
  • What makes a game engaging and how to foster these components in a game.
  • Have a clear and concrete understanding of what having a UX mindset and developing a UX strategy entail.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the games industry going forward? What major trends do you predict over the next 12 months?

The games industry is moving fairly fast and what we see a lot today is efforts towards the metaverse and the idea of not just providing a game but also a social space where people can meet, create and share experiences. So I think it will be really important to understand the human motivations behind this concept and offer a space for players that is meaningful.

On a similar note, the pandemic has accelerated the need for social interaction through games and I think we will continue to see this trend grow and develop over the coming months.

Don’t miss out

You can hear Hodent dive deeper into cognitive science and user experience in her MasterClass on Wednesday, June 9th from 4:00pm to 7pm (UK time). Spaces are still available, but they're filling up fast and with strictly limited numbers for these tightly focused groups, don't hang about or you'll miss out! Book now!

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