This October 4-6, Ubisoft Toronto will host the Game UX Summit ’17 in Toronto at the St. Lawrence Centre. A unique opportunity for attendees to network around our passion for UX in the game industry, the Game UX Summit (October 4-5) and Masterclasses (October 6) will be announced soon. If you want to receive updates about the summit, sign up here and follow #GameUXSummit or Twitter.
Additional speakers to be announced soon. Check back for updates!
Speakers and lineups subject to change. If you are interested in speaking at the summit, please complete this speaker submission form.
Keynote: Raph Koster
Raph Koster is a veteran game designer who has been professionally credited in almost every area of the game industry. Koster is widely recognized as one of the world’s top thinkers about game design, and is an in-demand speaker at conferences all over the world. His book A Theory of Fun for Game Design is nearing its tenth anniversary as one of the undisputed classics in the games field. In 2012, he was named an Online Game Legend at the Game Developers Conference Online.
He’s been the lead designer and director of massive titles such as Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies; a venture-backed entrepreneur heading his own studio; and he’s contributed design work, writing, art, soundtrack music, and programming to many more titles ranging from Facebook games to single-player games for handheld consoles.
Mike Ambinder, Senior Experimental Psychologist, Valve
Mike Ambinder is a senior experimental psychologist at Valve who joined the company in 2008. He has a PhD in Experimental Psychology (with an emphasis on visual cognition) from the University of Illinois, and a BA in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale University. His work at Valve focuses on the application of knowledge and methodologies from psychology to game design. Throughout his time at Valve, he has worked on DOTA 2, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, and Alien Swarm.
Anouk Ben-Tchavtchavadze, UX Lead, King
Anouk is a UX Lead at King who has over 10 years of experience designing games on various platforms, devices and consoles. She has managed teams of varied skill sets and sizes on a range of projects implementing and innovating in best UX and research practices. She is dedicated to putting players first and crafting amazing, fun and meaningful gaming experiences. She’s worked on games at Ubisoft, Zynga, Amazon, GSN Games, and now at King, makers of candy crush.
David Candland, UI Design Lead, Bungie
David’s childhood was largely spent drawing barbarians in class and blowing pocketfuls of quarters at the local arcade. His high school guidance counsellor told him that he would never get anywhere pursuing art and video games as careers. After receiving degrees in graphic design at BYU-Idaho and interactive design at the ArtCenter College of Design, he went on to work at companies like Microsoft and Sierra doing interactive and web design. He has also taught visual arts at the Art Institute of Seattle and Bellevue College. Eventually, he wound up at Bungie, designing the user interfaces for Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Destiny. He was instrumental in defining the party, lobby, and matchmaking systems, now so prevalent in online console gaming. Most recently he has been working on the interface for Destiny 2. David is currently the UI Design Lead at Bungie where he proves his high school guidance counselor wrong on a daily basis.
Kari Gaynor, UX Design Lead, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft
Kari Gaynor is a UX Design Lead frequently found working at the intersection of art, future envisioning, and technology. With a background in design for social change and graphic design, Kari and a group of fellow grad students started a design research lab called Public Practice Studio in 2012. Kari currently builds, leads and manages a world-class UI/UX Team at Turn 10 Studios (Microsoft) shipping AAA video game titles for the best selling Forza Motorsport franchise. Her design work has been recognized by The Atlantic, The MoMA, and tech and gaming enthusiasts around the world.
Bryce Johnson, Senior Designer, Xbox
Bryce Johnson is a senior designer for Xbox. He learned to think beyond conventional accessibility practices by designing the first digital library for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and now applies Microsoft Inclusive Design to gaming, with the Xbox Gaming for Everyone initiative. In the greatest job in the world, Bryce works to make Xbox services, hardware, and games inclusive and fun for people of all abilities.
Scott Lee, Art Director, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft
Scott Lee is an Art Director with over 23 years of experience in Video Game Development, Comic Books, Television, and Film. Starting his career as an artist at DC, he went onto create characters for film and television. He previously worked as Art Director at Ubisoft, Rockstar, and Radical, before joining Microsoft’s Turn 10 Studios in 2016, where he aims to bring a deeper and more personal player experience to the racing genre as Art Director for Forza.
Ben Lewis-Evans, User Experience Researcher, Epic Games
Ben Lewis-Evans works at Epic Games as a User Experience Researcher where he assists the company meet its user experience goals for all of their games and products. He has a PhD in human factors psychology, 13+ years of research experience, and has worked on over 75 game titles including indie, AAA, Facebook, and mobile games. Past careers include a time as a games reviewer, shadowy government scientist, and Giraffe wrangler.
Ellie Moon, Director of User Experience, Kabam
Ellie Moon is the UX Director at Kabam Games, overseeing the user experience of two products: Marvel: Contest of Champions and Transformers: Forged to Fight. Her background includes communication design, UX for console games, and advertising. She has been an advocate for incorporating UX into everyday decision-making processes in mobile game development and for integrating Data Analytics into UX design methodologies.
Lennart E. Nacke, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Waterloo
Lennart Nacke is the Director of the HCI Games Group and an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo, teaching Human-Computer Interaction and Game Design. He is researching cognitive and emotional elements of player experience in video games. Lennart works as a gamification and user experience contractor, has served on the steering committee of the International Game Developers Association Games User Research Special Interest Group, and loves the GUR community. He strongly believes in understanding users first to build more engaging games and compelling player experiences.
Alexandria Neonakis, UI Artist/Designer, Naughty Dog
Alexandria has been working in game development since 2007. After gaining experience in console, mobile and casual development, she joined Naughty Dog in 2012. She drove UI design and art on The Last of Us, Left Behind, Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy. During Uncharted 4, she helped spearhead an internal push for greater accessibility in Naughty Dog games. Moving into The Last of Us 2, her priority will be continuing to see that through and expand on it, with the goal of making games accessible for everyone.
Ivana Randelshofer, UX Supervisor, Ubisoft
Ivana Randelshofer is the UX Supervisor for several Ubisoft studios located in Germany. With her main focus on user-centered design and envisioning information, she believes it’s the players’ right to enjoy seamless and memorable gaming experiences without any frustration. Together with her team, she works on multiple games in different development stages and supports producing and development teams by providing UX services and establishing research processes. Before joining Ubisoft, Ivana was part of a research facility focused on Human-Computer Interaction and robotics. She also currently works on her Ph.D. in HCI and teaches interaction design at various universities.
Nikki Silver, Experience Designer, Riot Games
Nikki Silver is an Experience Designer at Riot Games. With a background in UX, advertising, and visual design, Nikki works with teams at Riot to build compelling experiences for players all over the world. She has worked extensively on social systems within League of Legends, brought design and user experience expertise to the community builder game Stonehearth, and is currently working as a leader to build engaging new experiences for Riot Games’ research and development efforts. Nikki believes in a holistic approach to design with an emphasis on finding interrelated threads between unrelated topics.
Masterclasses will be held on October 6, 2017 at Ubisoft Toronto, and are not included within the General Admission Summit ticket, but must be purchased in addition to a General Admission Summit ticket.
Another masterclass to be announced soon. Check back often for updates!
“Introduction to UX and Cognitive Science Applied to Game Development” by Celia Hodent – 6 hours
User experience (UX) and cognitive science are becoming trendy in the industry, but how can these disciplines concretely help a team develop and improve a video game? UX and cognitive science 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 cognitive science/psychology knowledge and UX guidelines 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 target audience. This Masterclass will offer numerous examples, from video games and beyond, to illustrate each point.
Part 1 will focus on cognitive science 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 ‘engage-ability’ 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!).
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
Director of User Experience, Epic Games
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 approach is to use cognitive science knowledge and the scientific method to concretely solve design problems and make sure the player experience is always enjoyable and engaging, while reaching business goals. Celia is also the founder and curator of the Game UX Summit, which launched in Durham, NC in May of 2016, hosted by Epic Games. She has worked on many projects across multiple platforms (PC, console, mobile, and VR), including the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six franchise, Star Wars: 1313, Paragon, Fortnite, and Spyjinx. Celia is the author of The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can Impact Video Game Design.
“Introduction to the UX of Game Development Tools” by David Lightbown – 6 Hours
Have you heard the term “User Experience” in the context of game development tools, but you’re not sure what it means? Perhaps you’ve been trying to understand the difference between UX and UI? Maybe you’re wondering if there is a process that can improve the learnability and efficiency of game development tools? If so, this workshop is for you!
In this workshop, you will get an introduction to the basics of User Experience as it relates to game development tools.
Topics covered in this workshop include:
• How do we define User Experience?
• What are the four habits that can lead to better UX?
• Why is it important to watch people work?
• Why should we do one thing really well?
• How does making it familiar improve the User Experience?
• Why should we have a shared vision?
• What are the next steps to start applying these techniques in your team?
Each topic is taught with a mix of theory and activities, so you learn by doing. By the end of this workshop, you will have a solid grasp of the basics concepts from the field of user experience, and how they can be applied to game development tools.
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
User Experience Director, Ubisoft
David has been working professionally in computer graphics for over 20 years. He has spent the majority of his career helping game developers find ways to be more productive, and shares his experiences via his acclaimed conferences all around the world. He is an Autodesk Master Award recipient, advocates for improved efficiency in the games industry, 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.
If you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities, please email GameUXSummit@ubisoft.com to request information on our sponsorship packages.
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St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
The St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is a performing arts theatre and events complex located in the heart of the hip and historic Old Town area of downtown Toronto. Visitor information, including details on accessibility can be found here.
27 Front St. East, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1B4
The St. Lawrence Centre is a short walk from Toronto’s major transit hub, Union Station. For more information on public transit, visit the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) website.
Public parking is available at several Green P locations.
Many licensed cab companies operate within the Greater Toronto Area. Uber is also available.
From Pearson Airport (YYZ)
The UP Express train connects Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto in 25 minutes. Trains depart every 15 minutes.
From Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ)
For attendees travelling from Canada and select cities in the United States, the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is minutes from the downtown core.
Ubisoft Toronto has organized courtesy rates for Game UX Summit ’17 attendees with the following local hotels:
(Update: Unfortunately we are now out of rooms at the courtesy rate, but we still recommend these hotels as the closest options to the Game UX Summit venue.)
All rates listed are in Canadian funds, applicable taxes, levies and fees are additional to the room estimate. Rooms are based on availability, first-come, first-served. Ubisoft Toronto assumes no responsibility for information provided or bookings. Rates and information subject to change; contact hotel directly for full details.
Game UX Summit 2016
The inaugural Game UX Summit was hosted by Epic Games in May 2016 and attracted over 250 attendees, allowing for a unique opportunity to network around our passion for UX in the game industry. Throughout the sessions, 15 excellent speakers shared their best practices, tackled specific game-focused UX challenges, offered new perspectives and sparked some debates. You can watch most of the Game UX Summit 2016 sessions on YouTube, read a summary for all the sessions here, and even check out the photos from the event.