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The UX of Fortnite

Learn about the UX process and framework that was put in place during the development of Fortnite, the most successful video game of 2018.

Interaction design and UX are very new to the video game industry and have specific challenges considering that video games need to be fun and engaging. As the former director of UX at Epic Games and 10-year+ veteran in the game industry, I propose to explain how UX is approached in game development, what framework is used, and what pipeline is applied, using Fortnite as main illustration. More specifically, the talk will cover the following:

  • The main misconceptions game developers have regarding UX methodologies and how to overcome them.

  • The UX framework that was used during the development of Fortnite, consisting of breaking down UX in two main pillars: usability and “engage-ability”. The usability pillar is close to the heuristics used in other industries but game developers use a specific vocabulary that will be describe here. “Engage-ability” is a fuzzier concept, sometimes also called “fun” or “immersion”. I break it down into 3 main elements: human motivation (mainly using Self-Determination Theory and behavioral psychology), emotion (which translates into what we call “game feel” in the game industry, which is close to Don Norman’s concept of emotional design), and “gameflow” (difficulty curve, pacing, and onboarding). I will describe how this framework and “ingredients” are applied to games, using examples from the development of Fortnite. If necessary for the IxDA audience, I can start this section by a brief reminder of cognitive psychology knowledge on perception, attention, and memory.

  • Lastly, I will explain the production pipeline and user research methodologies used in game development.

Celia Hodent

Celia Hodent is recognized as a leader in the application of user experience (UX) and cognitive science in the game industry. Celia holds a PhD in psychology and has over ten years of experience in the development of UX strategy and processes in video game studios. Through her work at Ubisoft (e.g. Rainbow 6 franchise), LucasArts (e.g. Star Wars: 1313), and as Director of UX at Epic Games (e.g. Fortnite), she has contributed to many projects across multiple platforms, from PC to consoles, mobile, and VR. Celia is also the founder of the Game UX Summit, advisor for the GDC UX Summit, and author of The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can Impact Video Game Design. She currently works as an independent consultant, helping studios increase the likelihood of their games to be engaging and successful.

Twitter: @CeliaHodent

Blog: celiahodent.com

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