PAX Day 2 – Sexy Stats: Making Sense of Your Numbers

Yes. Only I would go to a video games conference to listen to people discussing statistics. If someone threw an Excel spread sheet at me, my life would have been complete. I was honestly expecting to be the only one in the lecture. Boy, was I mistaken! Turns out… I had found my people. Even more fascinating? How gaming stats started changing player behaviour! Here’s how the achieved it.Panelists:

img_8543Katie Gall (Co-Director, Lumi Consulting), Kelsey Gamble (Social Media and Marketing Consultant, Kelsey Gamble Consulting), Adam Matthews (Design Lead, Hammerfall Publishing) and Ally McLean (Producer, Plastic Wax)

When designing games, it helps to learn the different platforms that are available. The one that is widely used is called “Unity”. It gives you statistics on: Daily Average Users, Monthly Average Users and Retention. By following these basic numbers, a developer can understand how many people are enjoying their game and if the level progression is good enough or should they develop something harder or easier.

One of the interesting things to change player behaviour occurred when League of Legends decided to show the statistics of their games to the player at the end of every battle. What this then did, was enabled a whole bunch of people to become helpful healers as they got more points for supporting it.

The pitfall with any data persists within the gaming world too. You need to keep the end user in mind to then target their needs. From a developer’s perspective, you need to ask the gaming studio about the metrics that they’re after – is the number of downloads? Or is it the number of interactions? After all this, you still need to do Market Research – check in on Facebook groups, Reddit or heck, even ask people!

img_8545So what should you be looking for as a games developer?
– Daily Checks
– Fortnightly Checks
– Monthly Check- Every Quarter: Strategy Check.

Takeaway Items:

What should you know about the future?

Data Science is definitely an up and coming field and is growing in the market place. However, you still need to have storytelling combined with this more “logical” side to better sell your ideas. Because then you bring a multi-layered perspective to the discussions on game design.

Context is key!

Always know the context of why you are executing something.

Remember that you will have observer bias. If your manager says that you need to increase a certain number…. then that is where you will focus on. So make sure you have context and keep the end user in mind.

Always keep perspective.

For example, you cannot count Facebook views at face value. Because it counts 3 seconds into a video as a view… irrespective whether the user watched the clip to the very end. Plus, given that they have Autoplay, the data can be skewed. You need to focus, in this case, on getting the user to watch the video to completion and not just the first 3 seconds.

Look at multiple sources for research data as this will help to shape design.

How much data versus the data already available to you – that’s why companies that have done multiple pre-releases tend to do better as they have more data on what works and what doesn’t. They have retrospective data that can help them make better decisions in the future!

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