A Guide to Game Experience Design

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Game User Experience(GUX) : What is it?

Game User Experience (GUX) is a particular discipline of design, centered around the psychology of the player their behaviors, thinking processes and capabilities. GUX is part of a large toolkit used to ensure the experience that has been designed is truly reflected in the mind of your player. It applies absolute knowledge of players’ behaviors and thinking processes, and couples it with data-collection, an iterative design process, and testing with real players.

“GUX is where the science of the player meets the art of game design.”

Game UX differs from Mainstream UX

I’ve been working in the Game User Experience(GUX) role for quite sometime now. I’ve encountered differences between mainstream UX and games UX. Game user experience is massively different to the mainstream UX. It is a lot less mature than mainstream UX. Mainstream UX has been around for a long time, can’t even put a date on it. Games have been around for quite a few decades however games UX has been around just since 2005. So it’s had much less time to mature.

It’s reflected in the reactions that we tend to get when we speak to developers where the buy in quite less and there is much more aggression we don’t need UX at the start of the project. There is a notion that GUX can be done after and players won’t care about it. While companies pour millions into marketing, advertising and producing the game, not much of the budget may be dedicated to making the game better. It’s really really rare and hard to persuade the teams to be involved in game UX methods.

Game UX is secretive

Games are experiential products and have and an end to it. There is no point watching say a film, once you know the end, there is no need to watch it again and so they the game companies go to great lengths to prevent it. Which means the methods used in GUX are something that can’t be talked about.

Mainstream UX is the total opposite. Almost everything is always shared. It’s unbelievably open and that’s incredible. Ideas can be shared and methods can be reproduced across the world. GUX is much much more secretive.

GUX has much more interesting research questions

GUX requires us to adapt existing methods or create new ones. In mainstream UX your research questions will be “are they able to perform this action?”, “are they able to buy something” mostly dealing with task completion or a transaction. While helping users complete tasks faster is a win for mainstream UX but it doesn’t work for a games. The perfect UX according to mainstream UX thinking for games would be something like “Here is a button with the label WIN”, when the user taps it the game is won and the end.

For GUX we’re assessing constantly “…okay,that’s hard but is that deliberately hard or is it annoyingly hard”, “is that the right kind of difficulty?”, “is it the right kind of challenge?”

Game User Experience is still fresh

We are literally right now having to come up with methods and solutions that solve problems that game designers are coming with. Nothing is fixed nothing is set in stone everything is open to creation everything is open allowing us to put our mark on this industry. Games works a lot with feelings. Games can make you feel joyful, it can try to make you genuinely fear for your life for five minutes. We’re working with things that are emotional and the challenge of trying to work out with the emotions during play. If the player is off the immersion, why so and how to get them back into it. These are the core challenges.

Game UX Designers and creatives have more passion

While most designers can get better pay easily just by walking out the door, designers who work in the industry are there only for the love for games. Spare time is precious to them and yet we choosing to spend it on this product and the thing that you’re working on. It is a tremendous privilege.


Games User Experience is a discipline of science and design for overcoming the difficulties in making games. It delivers on their experiential intent. It uses formalized processes and job roles to discover flaws in a game’s design and its means of communicating itself to the player. UX leverages a body of academic knowledge on designing for humans than spans decades of study, across many different domains.