Understanding gamers


UpDownLeftRight is a platform that takes the activity young people do everyday and transforms it into a better gaming experience - think more XP for characters or longer gaming time. The platform also includes a digital payments service, meaning young people can make in-game purchases responsibly.

This project documents a research study that was conducted in the USA, which informed the direction and offering of UpDownLeftRight. 11 families were interviewed in New York and San Fransisco: first a session with the gamer, followed by time with their parent. A semi-structured interview format was used to obtain rich, reliable and comparable qualitative data.

There were three key goals of conducting the research: learning about young people and their parents' opinions on gaming and in-game purchases; eliciting how a wearable band should be designed to appeal to the youth market; and what the market's reaction is to UpDownLeftRight.

To first learn about opinions on gaming and in-game purchases, a series of hands-on activities were used to facilitate discussion. Paper props were used in a treasure hunt and quiz, allowing the gamer to show meaningful objects and talk about their routine and opinions.

Next, to gain insight on how to design a wearable for young people, a 'build-a-band' activity was created. This allowed the participant to choose a canvas for their product (out of a range of black fitness trackers, watches and wristbands), add features and finally choose a colour. Ranking was used at each stage and the participant was encouraged to discuss their though process, and trade-offs they were making, aloud.

The third section of the interview involved explaining UpDownLeftRight and getting structured feedback on the platform's component parts. A stop-motion film was created to show a scenario of use, allowing even the youngest participants to understand how it works in practice. A series of follow-up questions allowed participants to discuss what they liked, disliked and what could be improved.

Following the USA trip, the next step was to turn this huge amount of data into actionable insights for the design team. Through a combination of user profiles, key quotes and observations, themes emerged that related to general market insights (on gaming and purchases) and design insights (which would inform the product and experience design).

I’m trying to practice my skills ‘cause all my friends have had it longer. I’m trying to catch up.
— 15-year-old male
I’d gone through, like, eight levels in a row and this one level took all my lives... it frustrated me, I’ve done so much today! So I [paid] to keep going.
— 16-year-old female
[My son] would play games constantly... I would have objected except that he was so well rounded with everything else and was such a good kid. It changed my opinion about gaming.
— 55-year-old mother

For further information, download a copy of the full report Understanding Gamers: How Young People and Their Parents Perceive Gaming and Monetisation.