Method Publication Event People Method Publication Event People


Method Publication Event People Method Publication Event People
Frederick Winslow Taylor publishes Principles of Scientific
Management which describes time and motion studies
and methods for improving industrial efficiency.
Alphonse Chapanis, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army,
shows that "pilot error" can be greatly reduced
through more intuitive layout of airplane cockpits.
William Hick and Ray Hyman publish
Hick's law. A mathematical model that
predicts the amount of time it takes for
a person to make a decision as a result
of the possible choices he or she has.
The Focus Group is born. Sociologist
Robert Merton, writes a book titled,
The Focused Interview. Ernest Dichter,
a marketing pioneer, reads Merton’s
work and coins the term “focus group”
and starts performing them.
Willy Higinbotham creates a tennis
game on an oscilloscope and analog
computer for public demonstration at
The Brookhaven National Laboratory.
The game console is born. Ralph Baer
develops his "Brown Box," the video
game prototype that lets users play
tennis and other games on the TV.
Carol Kantor is hired by Atari and
becomes the first Games User
Researcher ever. She is hired in their
marketing department. Techniques she
used include field observation, surveys,
focus groups, and telemetry data from
“coin drops”.
Ericson and Simon publish" Verbal
Reports as Data" formalizes the Think
Aloud Method that comes to dominate
usability tests.
Wanting a more precise estimate of a
sample size than 5-6, Jim Lewis
publishes the first paper describing
how the binomial distribution can be
used to model the sample size needed
to find usability problems.
John Brooke at Digital Equipment
Corporation creates the System
Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire. It
is now the mostly widely used
questionnaire for evaluating
perceptions of usability.
Nicole Lazzaro founds XEODesign a
consulting agency on many aspects of
game development including game
User Research.
Amy Kanerva and Libby Hanna run the
first documented usability studies on a
Microsoft game.
Inspired by Sony Japan’s game
“monitoring” teams, Mark Cerny and
his assistants bring in 10 participants at
a time and watch them play up to 8
hours of Crash Bandicoot 2 at Sony
America. This becomes standard
practice at Sony.
SIGCHI is born. At Gaithersburg,
Maryland professionals interested in
human-computer interaction meet for
the first time. Later that year the
Association for Computing Machinery
forms a subgroup called the Special
Interest Group on Computer-Human
Peter Polson and Clayton Lewis
publish several papers on the
Cognitive Walkthrough method.
Jakob Nielsen and Rolf Molich publish
"Heuristic Evaluation of User
Interfaces" in which they describe this
influential discount usability method.
Brenda Laurel is hired at Interval
Research and starts doing
ethnographic research on 8 to 14 year
old girls and gaming. This research
eventually leads to her founding of
Purple Moon Software in 1996.
Bill Fulton starts doing Games User
Research at Microsoft. Later in the
year Howard Phillips (of Nintendo)
hires Bill to run the playtesting
department. Bill reformulates
Playtesting to be a rigorous in-house
survey methodology for measuring
Usability becomes a standard
embodied in ISO 9241 pt 11.
The RITE Method is born. While doing
usability work on the tutorial of Age of
Empires Michael Medlock documents a
method for making systematic changes
to a game as issues are found during a
usability test.
Randy Pagulayan does the first user
research and games workshop with the
Niesen Norman Group in Chicago and
Brooke White starts a User Research
group at Volition.
Frank and Lillian Gilbreth reduce work
motions into smaller steps and pioneer
ways of working faster and easier from
bricklaying to disassembling weapons
in the dark during World War one.
Edward Condon designs a computer
for the Westinghouse display at the
World’s Fair that plays the traditional
game Nim.
John Karlin at Bell Labs is named head
of the newly-formed Human Factors
department where he would help
perfect the modern numeric dialing
system and keypad still in use today.
Paul Fitts publishes Fitt’s Law. A
mathematical model that predicts the
time it takes to move to a target based
on its size and distance.
The Human Factors Society is formed.
MIT student Steve Russell invents
Spacewar, the first computer-based
video game.
Marcos Nunes-Ueno and Tom Lorusso
run the first usability workshop at
GDC. It is the precursor to the User
Research Boot Camp series at GDC.
Nolan Bushnell installs Computer
Space in the Dutch Goose restaurant
and watches people play it.
“Beyond Focus Groups” is presented at
GDC by Bill Fulton and Michael
Carol hires Colette Weil, Mary
Takatsuno (later Mary Fujihara) & Linda
Benzler (later Adam). They are the first
Gamer User Research team.
CHI has a breakout year with games.
Kevin Keeker chairs four separate
sessions focused on games, bringing
papers and demos from around the
User Research comes to Nintendo.
While placing Donkey Kong arcade
units in stores Howard Phillips starts
watching people play, and passes this
information on. Nintendo gives
Howard a full time job assessing games.
Howard grows this department over
the years and later starts Nintendo
Power magazine.
The book “Psychology of Human
Computer Interaction” is published by
researchers at Carnegie Mellon and
Xerox Park. This seminal book explains
GOMS and Keystroke Level Modeling.
The first Games Developers
Conference is held, organized by Chris
Crawford in his San Jose, California
area living room.
The Usability Professionals Association
is born. A group of CHI attendees
including Janice James and Ginny
Redish start the usability special
interest group in the Society of
Technical Communications.
Usability Engineering by Jakob Nielsen
is published.
Don Norman publishes the Design of
Everyday Things.
Ray Kowalewski starts a Games User
Research group at THQ.
XEODesign does first player testing at
of an iPhone game at iPhoneDevCamp
David Tisserand starts a User Research
group at Sony Europe.
Nicole Lazzaro publishes "the FourKeys
to Fun”, a set of heuristics for games.
Jakob Nielsen publishes the first
bi-weekly column on usability on
Ubisoft’s marketing group starts
performing tests like the kind that
Mark Cerny had been doing at Sony.
Bill Fulton puts together the first
Games User Research Special Interest
Group Round Table. This is the start of
the Games User Research SIG.
Lowell Vaughen starts a Games User
Research group at Monolith…and then
leaves and starts one at Warner
Brothers games later in the year.
Ray Kowalewski starts a Games User
Research group at Activision.
The Sony Europe team grows to 5
Paul Newton takes over EA’s GameOps
and changes it to User Experience
Testing Labs and starts hiring trained
User Researchers
The book “Game Analytics: Maximizing
the Value of Player Data” by Magy Seif
El-Nasr, Anders Drachen and
Alessandro Canossa is published.
Mike Ambinder presents “Biofeedback
in Gameplay: How Valve Measures
Physiology to Enhance Gaming
Experience” at GDC
Celia Hodent and Lowell Vaughn start
a User Research group at Epic Games
to run a UR group.
Brooke White starts a Games User
Research group at Disney Interactive
for Social and mobile. Jason Yow starts
a Games User Research group at
Disney Core
The book “Game Usability: Advancing
the Player Experience” is published by
Katherine Isbister and Noah Schaffer
with contributions from many
practitioners and academics on games
user research.
The Ubisoft extended Games User
Research group becomes the largest in
the industry at 62 full time employees.
Kyle Drexel starts a Games User
Research group at Wargaming.
At UPA in Munich, for the first time
Game User Research managers from
Microsoft, Sony, Square/Crystal
Dynamix, and THQ are on the same
Brenda Laurel founds Purple Moon
based on her previous field research
work on girls and gaming.
Michael Medlock, Kevin Keeker and
Ramon Romero join Bill Fulton later in
1997. Microsoft now has a Games User
Research team.
With the Xbox coming, the Microsoft
Games User research team grows from
4 people to 13 people.
Sony America builds a set of dedicated
research labs.
Melissa Federoff publishes “Usability
Guidelines for the Creation and
Evaluation of Fun in Video Games”.
The first documented set of game
usability heuristics.
“User-Centered Design In Games” by
Randy Pagulayan, Kevin Keeker, Dennis
Wixon, Ramon Romero, and Thomas
Fuller is published in The Human-Computer
Interaction Handbook.
Keith Steury and Bill Fulton present
“Beyond Psychological Theory: Getting
Data that Improves Games” at GDC.
This is the first public documentation
of the work of a Games User Research
group at GDC.
User Researcher Bruce Phillips works
with in game telemetry to record
participant behavior in conjunction
with in house surveys (participant
emotions and perceptions) to improve
the game Voodoo Vince.
While working in the Electronic Arts
Marketing department, Rich Ridlin
starts doing usability work on
Godfather and Tiger Woods.
Heather Desurvire presents “Using
Heuristics to Evaluate the Playability of
Games” at CHI.
.Ramon Romero starts running
Rich Ridlin starts a User Research
group at EA in Redwood Shores.
Games User Research enters
mainstream consciousness. Randy
Pagulayan’s work on Halo 3 makes the
front cover of Wired. Halo 3 work by
Randy and John Hopson is also
featured on NPR.
At Microsoft Bruce Phillips, Jun Kim ,
Eric Schuh and Dan Gunn start using
telemetry data from participants to 1)
trigger attitudinal questions (e.g. after a
death event) and 2) automatically tag
the event with video. This is
documented in the paper “Tracking
real-time user experience (TRUE).”
Rob Aseron starts a Games User
Research group at Zynga. Kevin Keeker
joins him.
Mike Ambinder presents “Valve's
Approach to Playtesting” at GDC.
John Hopson publishes “We're Not
Listening: An Open Letter to Academic
Game Researchers”.
.Mike Ambinder starts a Games User
extended rigorous 6-8 hour surveys on
emotion/perception for released
games like Halo, Project Gotham
Racing and Munch’s Odyssey.
Research group at Valve.
Janus Sorensen starts a User Research
group at IO Interactive (part of Edios &
Crystal Dynamics).
John Hopson starts a Games User
Research group at Bungie
Graham McAllister starts Vertical Slice,
a user research consultancy focusing
on games.
GameOps is started at EA Canada as a
dedicated playtesting operation with a
mostly QA thrust.
Microsoft GUR builds a huge revision
to their labs. It includes: 57 survey
stations, 7 “pods” for testing motion
games at scale, and 3 living room labs.
The first official IGDA Games User
Research SIG happens. There are
about 40 attendees.
University of Southern California
names Dennis Wixon as a Microsoft
Endowed Professor. Done in close
partnership with Tracy Fullerton and
Randy Pagulayan.
CHI Play conference starts.