The User Research Book

Drachen_Game Users Research

This book is focused on providing the foundational, accessible, go-to resource for people interested in user experience (UX) and user research (UR) in games. It is a community-driven effort—it has been written by passionate professionals and researchers in the GUR community as a handbook and guide for everyone interested in user experience, user research, and games.

We aim to provide the most comprehensive overview from an applied perspective, for a person new to GUR, but which is equally useful for experienced user researchers. We stress the term overview — GUR is a deep, interdisciplinary field with thousands of professionals working within it worldwide; hundreds of scientific papers are produced on the topic every year.

It is not possible for one book to provide everything you need to know about GUR, but what a single book can do is provide the bird’s-eye view, introduce the contexts and methods, and provide a pathway for further self-illumination. That is not to say that this book is not practical, as the various chapters not only describe high-level concepts, but also how to work in practice with GUR methods. This book contains practical guidelines on how to conduct user research across topics such as planning, methods, lab design, mobile games, accessibility, budgeting user research, and more.

The book is grounded in the design and development process, and describes which methods we use at which stages, mimicking the glossaries used in the industry and academic research today, but putting everything into context. The connection between the wider context of GUR and the nitty-gritty details of work ‘in the trenches’ is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this book.

  • Most robust and comprehensive overview of Games User Research (GUR) and Game User Experience (UX) best practices that exists, covering all aspects of user research and UX in games
  • Written by experts across the games industry with advice that can be applied to any game production, across indie game development and AAA titles
  • Practical advice from the experts who do UX research and user-centred testing of games every day
  • Integrates the latest research and knowledge across industry and academia, distilling the wisdom of dozens of professionals with combined hundreds of years of experience
  • Heavily illustrated with colour screenshots

NEW: The GUR book is now a podcast! Follow the discussions, insight and advice on Anchor – or follow the authors on Twitter @GamesURbook

The book is published by Oxford University Press, an can be ordered here.

For an overview of the contents and authors see here.

We want to take the opportunity to thank the GUR community for help and contributions to the book. More than 100 people were involved in the creation of this volume, from people who wrote chapters, reviewed chapters, provided feedback on what should be included in a core handbook on GUR, etc. We have now an awesome collection of chapters distilling hundreds of years of hard-earned wisdom into a 500-pages plus volume.

For following news about the book, follow us on twitter @GamesURbook

Edited by Anders DrachenPejman Mirza-Babaei, and Lennart Nacke


“Games user research has come a long way in the last 2 decades, and this book is a testament to that progress. With chapters on lab setup and recruiting all the way to doing research on VR, this book covers it all. It will be a great resource for those getting into the field as well as industry veterans. I can confidently say that if you are involved in games user research there will be something of value to you in this book.” – Bruce Phillips, PhD, Xbox Research at Microsoft

“User research is a commonly underestimated but incredibly important part of the design and ongoing evolution interactive products. Anyone building interactive applications should consider and evaluate the user experience, and in games there is a great deal of knowledge on this. Games User Research unlocks that knowledge and makes it actionable for everyone.” – Dr. Christian Thurau, co-founder of Twenty Billion Neurons and Game Analytics

“Over the last 15 years, game user research has evolved into a distinct and innovative field, spearheading methods like data analytics or biometrics for user research. Yet researchers and students in HCI and games had no easy entryway into this body of work — until now. Game User Research is poised to become the reference handbook and default textbook of the field: comprehensive, succinct, and accessible. This book has been long overdue.” – Dr Sebastian Deterding, Reader, Digital Creativity Labs, University of York, UK

“Game user research is a vital part of game development, but getting a handle on how to work with players to improve the game experience can be challenging. This book is loaded with wisdom from dozens of professionals across industry and academia, and provides an invaluable resource on how to build the best strategy for user research.” – Ian Livingstone CBE, Chairman, Sumo Digital

“For a startup providing predictive analytics solutions for digital games, this book is a great compendium and contains a precious list of use cases. It does not only cover game analytics in detail but also presents a great overview on the state-of-the-art in game user research.” – Fabian Hadiji, CEO,

“So many books, so little time: this is the must read for anyone in industry working on gameful experiences.” – Regina Bernhaupt, Director User Experience Research, Ruwido Austria GmbH

“The Games User Research book gathers a broad spectrum of methods from the perspective of experts from both industry and academy. It will no doubt prove valuable to anyone interested in getting up to speed on this important topic.” – Katherine Isbister, Professor of Computational Media, UC Santa Cruz and author of Game Usability

“If you have an interest in understanding the science of interaction design in games, just read this book.” – Mike Ambinder, Experimental Psychologist, Valve Corporation and Affiliate Assistant Professor, University of Washington

“This book is an impressive community effort with the editors incorporating the work of dozens of contributors, which makes for a thorough overview filled with a diversity of perspectives around games user research, and an invaluable resource for us all.” – Drew Davidson, Director and Teaching Professor, Entertainment Technology Center, Carnegie Mellon University

“From practical methods and pragmatic takeaways across the wide spectrum of game development, to more thoughtful future-thinking topics, this book is a wonderful entry point into the burgeoning field of games user research.” – Randy Pagulayan, Ph.D., Director of User Research, Xbox and Microsoft Studios