Game UX Summit Links

You can find a Game UX Summit 2016 recap (including videos of the sessions) and 2017 event announcement via this link.

Speakers Speakers Masterclasses Sponsors Get Tickets

“Developing games and apps is about much more than just functionality. With thousands of games and apps out in the market, standing apart from the crowd is more challenging than ever before. That’s one reason why considering the user experience is crucial for developers. It is also about understanding how the end user or player is interacting with your game or app, and verifying that your design intentions are the ones ultimately felt by your audience. UX-focused design is also about saving time and resources, and refining the overall development experience through fast iteration and quickly finding critical issues.

At Epic Games, we strive to offer both our players, and our Unreal Engine developers, a compelling experience. Like many other studios, we embrace UX knowledge, tools, and methodology to guide the development of our games and products. Although the UX discipline is becoming increasingly popular in our industry, it is only taking its first strides, and we have a lot of catching up to do.

We are organizing the first Game UX Summit dedicated exclusively to video games and apps, to discuss the current state of UX in our industry, share best practices, and spread our love for science and compelling experiences. This summit will bring together renowned speakers from various UX-related disciplines: Human Factors, Human-Computer Interaction, UX Design, User Research, Behavioral Economics, Analytics, and more. We hope to see you there!”

Dr. Celia Hodent, Director of User Experience at Epic Games



Dan Ariely - Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics - Duke University
Jennifer Ash - UI Designer (Destiny) - Bungie
Fran Blumberg - Associate Professor of Psychological & Educational Services - Fordham University
Asi Burak - CEO - Power Play
Chris Grant - User Experience Director - King
Ian Hamilton - UX designer and accessibility specialist - Independent
Anders Johansson - Lead UI designer (The Division) - Massive Entertainment
David Lightbown - User Experience Director (Technology Group) - Ubisoft Montréal



Ian Livingston - Senior User Experience Researcher - EA Canada
Steve Mack - Researcher and Analyst - Riot Games
Anne McLaughlin - Associate Professor of Psychology - North Carolina State University
Don Norman - Director of the Design Lab - University of California, San Diego
Matthew Peterson -Co-founder, CEO and Senior Scientist - MIND Research Institute
Andrew Przybylski - Experimental psychologist - Oxford Internet Institute
Jordan Shapiro - Senior Fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center - Sesame Workshop



Don Norman


Don Norman

Don Norman is a leader in the application of human-centered design. Business Week has listed him as one of the world’s 27 most influential designers. “All design,” says Norman, “whether of a product, a company, a service or an experience is ultimately aimed at satisfying human and societal needs.” This approach requires the application of knowledge of cognitive science, engineering, and business with the skills and knowledge of the design field, helping companies produce products and services that satisfy human and societal needs, both practical and emotional.

Don Norman is the Director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego. He popularized the concept of user experience in the 1990s and is the co-founder of the User Experience/Usability consulting firm Nielsen Norman group that helps companies produce human-centered products and services. He has been Vice President of Apple in charge of the Advanced Technology Group and an executive at Hewlett Packard. He is a fellow of numerous scientific societies. He’s anIDEO fellow and author of numerous books including Living with Complexity and The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded.


Dan Ariely


Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and a founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. He is the author of the bestsellers Predictably IrrationalThe Upside of Irrationality, and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty. Through his research and his (often amusing and unorthodox) experiments, he questions the forces that influence human behavior and the irrational ways in which we often all behave.

Don Norman


Ian Livingston

Ian Livingston is the Senior User Experience Researcher with EA Canada, where he and his team provide user experience support for multiple franchises including FIFA, Plants vs. Zombies, and Mass Effect. Prior to EA, Ian worked at Ubisoft Montreal as the User Research Lead for the Far Cry franchise, working on titles including Far Cry 3 & 4. Ian has been working in the video game industry for almost 7 years, has published numerous academic articles in the field of HCI, and has presented work at a variety of conferences including GDC and SIGGRAPH.


Dan Ariely


Jennifer Ash

Jennifer Ash is a UI Designer working on Destiny at Bungie. She joined Bungie in 2012 as a User Researcher, utilizing many methodologies - collecting objective (data mining/visualization), subjective (playtests, usability, surveys), and involuntary (eye tracking) data - to inform designer and artist decisions on various aspects of Destiny. She transitioned from providing player insight to utilizing it as a UI Designer in 2015. Jennifer has previous experience in designing games for kids and education, and user experience design for software.

Don Norman


Jordan Shapiro

Jordan Shapiro, PhD is a world-renowned thought-leader on global policy and education. He’s currently a senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. His Forbes’ column on global education, learning through digital play, kids and culture has been read by over 3 million people around the world. He’s an internationally celebrated speaker and consultant whose fresh perspective combines psychology, philosophy, and economics in unexpected ways. Shapiro has worked with United States Air Force and Thomas Edison State College, using video games and digital media to help shape how they provide individuals with sophisticated 21st century critical and agile thinking skills. During the week, you can find him in the classroom at Temple University, where he teaches in the Intellectual Heritage Program, serves as the Associate Director for Digital Innovation at the College of Liberal Arts, and developed the University’s forthcoming curriculum in technological literacy (the first of its kind in the United States, preparing students with a comprehensive understanding of the unique issues digital technologies pose for tomorrow’s workforce and a global economy). He is father to two boys, ages eight and ten. @jordosh on twitter.


Dan Ariely


Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson, Ph.D., is Co-founder, CEO and Senior Scientist at the MIND Research Institute. Matthew, who as a child struggled with traditional language-based instruction due to dyslexia, created the game-based ST Math® software program to teach sophisticated math concepts visually, rather than verbally.

Through graphically rich, animated puzzles, ST Math makes deeper, conceptual math lessons accessible to children regardless of language barriers. His TEDx talk, “Teaching Without Words,” has drawn international attention. USA Today’s education reporter Greg Toppo, in his book The Game Believes in You, wrote, “ST Math and others like it may be the most pure expression of what computers can do for education.” Currently, ST Math reaches 1 million students across the country, and is proven to double or triple growth in math proficiency. Matthew continually evolves and refines ST Math program, and creates new game-based, visual math programs for schools, such as a financial literacy program for middle school, currently under development. After completing undergraduate degrees in biology, engineering, and Chinese from UC Irvine, he earned his Ph.D. in visual neuroscience from UC Berkeley.

Don Norman


Fran Blumberg

Fran C. Blumberg is an Associate Professor in the Division of Psychological & Educational Services in Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Purdue University (1988). Her research primarily concerns the development of children’s attention and problem solving in the context of informal and formal digital learning settings which has been funded through the Spencer Foundation and the National Science Foundation. She is an affiliated faculty member of the Children’s Digital Media Center at Georgetown University. She and Shalom M. Fisch co-edited the 2013 volume of New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development: Digital Games as a Context for Cognitive Development and Learning. She is single editor of Learning by Playing: Video Gaming in Education (Oxford University Press, 2014) and co-editor with Mark Blades, Caroline Oates and Barrie Gunter of Advertising to Children. New Directions, New Media (Palgrave, 2014).


Dan Ariely


Ian Hamilton

Ian is a UX designer and accessibility specialist, with a background in both gaming and web products at the BBC, particularly gaming for preschoolers with profound motor and cognitive impairments. He now works to raise the bar in the wider industry, pushing for both gamers and developers to be able to benefit from the financial and quality of life effects that greater accessibility for people with disabilities can bring. Partially through consulting, advising directly on individual products, workflow and working practices. And also through advocacy, day-to-day awareness raising together with collaborating with developers, publishers, academia and industry bodies on initiatives to raise the profile and understanding of accessibility, from a White House policy briefing to accessibility hack events, best practice guidelines to government funding processes.

Don Norman


Anne McLaughlin

Dr. Anne Collins McLaughlin is an Associate Professor of Psychology with the North Carolina State University Department of Psychology. She has a background as a human factors psychologist with a specialization in research on training and the study of cognitive aging. She is specifically interested in the special issues that arise in the training and education of older adults, with an emphasis on engaged life at older ages. She directs the Learning, Aging, and Cognitive Ergonomics Lab (LACE LAB) at NC State and co-directs the Gains Through Gaming Lab with Dr. Jason Allaire, a lifespan developmental psychologist. Research in both labs contributes to basic theories of learning and behavior while acknowledging the importance of applying this knowledge to daily life. She has worked on several projects involving games, focusing on potential cognitive benefit, usability for those who are older or have disability, and enjoyment.


Dan Ariely


Andrew Przybylski

Andrew Przybylski is an experimental psychologist based at the Oxford Internet Institute. Since 2005 his research has focused on applying motivational theory to understand how video games and virtual environments that draw people in, keep them engaged, and influence our emotions. His current focus is on improving the quality of scientific evidence in this domain as well as rigorously investigating the personal and environmental factors that lead to successful and healthy integration of digital technology in our lives.

Don Norman


Asi Burak

Asi Burak is the CEO of Power Play, a veteran of the videogame and technology industries, and an award-winning executive producer and designer. For the past five years, he served as the Executive Director of the highly influential industry organization Games for Change, producer of the largest gaming event in NYC - the Games for Change festival.

He served as a strategic advisor to organizations like EON Productions (producer of the James Bond films), Tribeca Enterprises, Newsweek, and McCann Erickson, helping guide the strategic use of games to further brand engagement.

He is often interviewed by international media and has been invited to speak at conferences and institutions including TED Talks, Harvard Kennedy School, the Clinton Global Initiative, Sundance, the Skoll World Forum, CES, SXSW, GDC, and the US Army War College.


Dan Ariely


Steve Mack

Steve Mack is a researcher and analyst at Riot Games. With a background in psychophysics, vision science, and Bayesian modeling, Steve helps inform League of Legends product strategy by synthesizing player sentiment, in-game telemetry, and biometrics (eyetracking) within multimodal frameworks that enable discovery of new product opportunities and reinforce player-informed design. Steve received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 2014, where his work focused on exploring the efficacy of visual search behaviors in real-world viewing environments and tasks. When not doing science, Steve can be found dangling from a nearby rock formation or playing a variety of competitive games at an astoundingly mediocre level.

Don Norman


David Lightbown

David has been working professionally in computer graphics for over 20 years. The majority of his career has been focused on improving the productivity of game developers.

When he’s not at the office, he can usually be found speaking at conferences across North America, Europe, and Asia, sharing what he has learned via his acclaimed presentations. David is an Autodesk Master award recipient, participates in mentoring programs for game developers, and recently published a book: “Designing the User Experience of Game Development Tools”.

David currently holds the position of User Experience Director for the Technology Group at Ubisoft Montréal.​


Dan Ariely


Anders Johansson

Anders Johansson is Lead UI designer at Massive Entertainment, part of the Ubisoft family, where he heads out a multi-disciplinary team working on Tom Clancy´s The Division. With a background and master in industrial design he is especially interested in the grey area in between subjects. He sees the importance in creating an environment where discipline on the opposite side of each other meet and create holistic solutions, and where form and function doesn’t have a master slave relationship but instead boosts each other. When not working with games he is a happy and curious multi artist, painting, making music, creating interior design and lately the fad has been building lamps.

Don Norman


Chris Grant

Christopher Grant has led design teams for over a decade. Today he is User Experience Director for King, the makers of Candy Crush, where his team engages a network spanning hundreds of millions of players across the globe. Previously, he led key strategic projects at innovative start-ups in the US and Europe. When not working, he is one of the mentors at Google’s Launchpad program where he helps the next generation of start-ups and teaches User Experience Strategy in Barcelona.


The Masterclass tickets give you access to the Summit on May 12th as well as one of the following masterclasses that will be held on May 13th at Epic Games HQ in Cary, NC (about 30 minutes away from the Durham Convention Center - a shuttle from the Durham Convention Center to Epic Games HQ will be provided to the Masterclass participants). The Masterclasses are 4 hours long and include lunch at Epic Games. They start at 10am and finish around 3.30pm.

Three masterclasses available (maximum 15 people per masterclass, the three masterclasses are happening at the same time so you can only attend one): 
- Masterclass “UX, Psychology, and Games” by Celia Hodent, director of UX at Epic Games 
- Masterclass “Game Design” by Jim Brown, senior designer at Epic Games 
- Masterclass “VR” by Nick Donaldson, senior designer at Epic Games



Masterclass “UX, Psychology, and Games” by Celia Hodent - 4 hours - May 13th at Epic Games

User experience (UX) and neuroscience are becoming trendy in the industry, but how can these disciplines concretely help a team to develop and improve a video game? UX and neuroscience combined are at the service of the intended design, and can provide very concrete and easy-to-use tips to anticipate and solve problems, sometimes even before the playtesting phase. This Masterclass proposes to delve into how the human brain works in terms of perception, attention, and memory (critical elements for UX) and offers a UX framework to use neuroscience/psychology knowledge and UX guidelines concretely during the different development stages. The ultimate goal of this Masterclass is to provide tools to significantly improve the experience of the game you are developing, as perceived by your targeted audience. This Masterclass will offer numerous examples, from video games and beyond, to illustrate each point. Whenever applicable, it will also provide games to experiment first hand the content and test the limitations of our brains (in terms of perception, attention, and memory).

Content - Part 1 will focus on neuroscience and psychology to understand how the brain works and, more specifically, how it learns. We will look into human perception, attention, and memory, using examples taken from video games and beyond. It’s using Celia’s GDC 2015 talk “The Gamer’s Brain” as a baseline. Part 2 will focus more specifically on the User Experience (UX) framework you can apply when developing your game, and how it relates to the brain (what we saw in Part 1). We will breakdown UX into ‘usability’ and ‘gameflow’ and detail the important principles within these 2 components that can make, in the end, a great difference for your player and how s/he will experience your game (for the better!). It’s using Celia’s GDC Europe 2014 talk about UX as a baseline.

Audience - Anyone can benefit from knowing better about the brain and about user experience. This Masterclass will however benefit designers, artists, and gameplay programmers even more.

About the trainer - Celia Hodent holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, initially specializing in the development of intelligence in children and adults. Early in her career, Celia stepped aside from academic research to work with an educational toy manufacturer, VTech. Celia joined Ubisoft Paris in 2008 to help the editorial team to translate neuroscience knowledge into game design features. She later worked for Ubisoft Montreal and LucasArts. She joined Epic Games in July 2013 to help guide the studio toward improved user experience practices. Celia’s main focus is to use psychology and neuroscience knowledge concretely to solve design problems and make sure the player experience is always enjoyable and emotional.


Masterclass “Game Design” by Jim Brown - 4 hours - May 13th at Epic Games

In the age of social media and online interconnectedness, game development is very much a social science. In order to understand what drives our players, we need to understand why they’re playing, how they’re playing, and what motivates them to come back. This interactive session will explore how the core tenets of game design can work hand-in-hand with the principles of UX to shed new light on video game development, and make you think about the way you think.

Content - The process of designing a game involves more than just asset creation and technical implementation; there are significant aspects of human interaction and usability that cannot be ignored. This Masterclass will open with a review of the components that define what a game actually is, accompanied by an in-depth examination of how each aspect of game design is based on user experience principles.

We’ll look at how players actually perceive games, and how we can leverage that perception to create better designs. Then, we’ll put those examples to the test by implementing them into some simple games, and explore how simple changes can affect the player’s experience. We’ll show how improving the game design process can improve the quality and reach of even a simple design.

Audience - This session is intended for anyone with an interest in video games, design, or anyone looking for a better understanding of how game design and user experience relate to one another.

About the trainer - Jim Brown has 20 years of experience in the video game industry as a designer, writer, and manager. He’s directed Epic’s development teams as a design lead over the award-winning Unreal series and the blockbuster Gears of War franchise. He’s worked on a wide range of titles and genres ranging from FPS games to MMORPGs, from mobile to PC, and has helped design everything from community portals to game IPs.


Masterclass “VR” by Nick Donaldson - 4 hours - May 13th at Epic Games

Virtual Reality is a new platform, complete with its own unique sets of UX challenges! Developers creating experiences in this space not only need to be aware of the technical challenges required to create a VR experience, but also the way that humans respond to different stimuli within the experience. Many of the tricks and common practices that are traditionally used in real-time applications require modification or even rethinking to be effective in VR applications. While some of these are able to be reasoned about before creating an application, many of the conclusions have been the result of hard-fought trial and error.

Content - This class will be an extension of a VRDC talk which covers Epic’s previous VR efforts to guide an overview of lessons learned about what works and doesn’t work for VR. Examples will be drawn from both Epic’s early efforts like Elemental VR and Strategy VR, but also the more recent Showdown and Bullet Train projects. Topics covered will range from user comfort, matching user expectations, as well as comfort and avoiding simulation sickness. Additionally, an overview of considerations for motion controls will be given special attention. Factors such as fatigue and input precision will be covered in context of current motion controller technology. This section will focus on best practices, with consideration given to the physiological limitations of the human body and the technological limitations of the current hardware. The content for this talk was developed by both Nick Donaldson (Sr. Designer), as well as Nick Whiting (Technical Director, VR & AR).


Audience - This session is intended for those working on VR experiences at any experience level. While designers and artists will benefit most directly from the master class, gameplay programmers will also benefit from becoming more familiar with best practices.

About the trainer - Nick Donaldson is a designer and all around content and optimization guru, currently working on Epic’s VR projects and the new “Unreal Tournament.” Nick started out making levels for “Unreal Tournament” at a young age, winning multiple Make Something Unreal Contest rounds, and was eventually convinced to give up his life of crocodile wrestling in Australia to move to North Carolina.


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Bronze Sponsors
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