Led by Celia Hodent, director of user experience at Epic Games, the new UX Summit is devoted to all facets of the user experience discipline in the video game industry.
Hodent is a passionate advocate for UX in games, and since this will be the inaugural UX Summit at GDC, we briefly corresponded with her to get her thoughts on why the Summit is important, what value it offers to GDC 2017 attendees -- and most importantly, what the UX Summit is looking for in terms of talk submissions.
Why is the UX Summit important?
Hodent: Developing a fun and successful game is hard and the competition is fierce. Making your game stand out in the current market while engaging and retaining your audience is a challenge. Even with the best intentions in mind, you can miss your design or your business goals if your players end up experiencing the game in a way you had not intended.
That’s the number one reason why considering the user experience is crucial for developers; to place the audience at the core of the development process and to understand what they are motivated to do, how they will interact with the product, and the emotions elicited via this interaction. It is about making sure the design as well as the business intents of your game are the ones ultimately experienced by your target audience. UX-focused development is also about saving time and resources and refining the overall development experience through a faster and more efficient iterative process.
The UX discipline has been around since the '90s and has grown in influence in industrial design and web development. Although UX is starting to become trendy in the game industry, it is still very new and not always well understood.
Having a UX summit at GDC is an exciting opportunity for designers, artists, and engineers to share and learn how UX can help them during the development process, as well as for producers, marketing and publishing people to discover how a UX strategy can help their business efforts. The UX Summit aims to share best practices as well as build bridges between the different disciplines who need to coordinate toward a same objective (shipping a successful and fun game) while having different perspectives.
What sort of submissions is the UX Summit looking for?
We are looking for a wide variety of UX panels and lectures from UX practitioners as well as any developers who discovered or advocated for a UX process. UX is an umbrella discipline that thrives when the different departments collaborate so the UX summit needs a good balance of different perspectives.
Therefore, the UX Summit aims to feature panels and lectures from all disciplines and all levels of expertise and will focus on best practices and case studies rather than pure theory.
Any of the following UX-related topics are welcome: UX strategy (the business side of UX), working with UX as a designer, UX design and interaction design case studies, analytics and how to have a global UX strategy and goals when looking at data, accessibility, and user research. We are looking for talks and panels from UX practitioners or advocates: designers, artists, engineers, producers, or from an executive or publishing level.
What can attendees expect to get out of the UX Summit?
Applying UX principles within a user-centered framework will help you find problems sooner and iterate both faster and more effectively. As a result, your game will have more chances to meet or exceed your audience’s expectations by providing a great experience, which will also help you accomplish your business goals.
UX takes its roots in cognitive psychology, human factors, and human-computer interaction. UX also designates an umbrella discipline whose objective is to evaluate and improve the experience of the target audience of a product in development. It includes for example UX design, interaction design, visual design, information architecture, UX strategy, and user research. It's a broad discipline, and the GDC UX summit aims to represent all of its facets, from design thinking to business goals.
Attendees of the summit will learn UX strategy, business, design, and research best practices in how to remove unnecessary barriers to the enjoyment of their game, how to increase its overall quality, and increase the likelihood that it will create and sustain engagement.
For more details on attending GDC 2017 or proposing a talk for the UX Summit, please visit the GDC website!
The week-long conference takes place Monday, February 27 to Friday, March 3, 2017 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California, and will once again host thousands of game developers from all around the world for a week of learning, networking and inspiration.
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