Studios User Research is the preeminent source of consumer-focused entertainment research and insights for Microsoft Studios and Xbox. Through key partnership, we provide impactful analyses & strategic guidance to enable innovative experiences for our Windows platforms.


Our team members have a diverse set of backgrounds including cognitive psychology, social psychology, human factors, ethnography, neuroscience, and software development.


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Recent Press & Publications

Could Analyzing How Humans Think Make Better Video Games? , by Alexandra Ossola. Popular Science, 2015. (Featuring Randy Pagulayan)

Quantifying "Magic": Learnings from User Research for Creating Good Player Experience on Xbox Kinect, IJGCMS 6(1), pp. 26-40. (Featuring Tim Nichols & Kristie Fisher)

Research Driven Design , Panel at SIEGE, 2014. (Featuring Deborah Hendersen)

Brain Dump: 9 Creators share "One Weird Trick" to Game Development , Panel at Penny Arcade Expo - PAX Prime 2014. (Featuring Deborah Hendersen)

The Xbox Science Machine , by Scott Butterworth. Official Xbox Magazine, May 2014 print edition. (Featuring Randy Pagulayan, JJ Guajardo, and Kristie J. Fisher)

Learning the Language of Players, Giant Bomb Podcast, 2014. (Featuring Deborah Hendersen)

A History of Games User Research , talk at 2014 Games User Research Summit. (Given by Michael Medlock)

Using User Research to Improve Game Narratives, talk at GDC 2014. (Given by Deborah Hendersen)

IT'S A TRAP! 3 Remarkably Common UI Traps and How to Avoid Them in Your Designs, 2014 //build Conference. (Featuring Michael Medlock)

UI Tenets + Traps, Winner of a 2013 Microsoft Engineering Award for Planning & Design Excellence. (Featuring Michael Medlock, Todd Kelley, and Kristie J. Fisher)

Games User Research Bootcamp at GDC 2013, see GDC Vault for access. (Featuring Tom Lorusso & Kristie J. Fisher)

Data Science, Risk Management, and Tacos: Inside Halo 4’s Playtest Labs , by Matt Leone. Polygon website, 2012. (Featuring Eric Schuh)

Video Game Design and Development , by Rebecca Clay. APA GradPYSCH, 2012. (Featuring Tim Nichols)

Cognitive Flow: The Psychology of Great Game Design , Gamasutra website, 2012. (Written by Sean Baron)

Peering into the Black Box of Player Behavior: The Player Experience Panel at Microsoft Game Studios , talk at GDC 2010. (Given by Bruce Phillips)

Playtest Labs: Get your gaming voice heard , by Laura Foy. Online Channel 9 Video. (Featuring Tim Nichols)

Microsoft to Debut Final Halo Game , by Wendy Kaufman. NPR Radio. (Featuring Randy Pagulayan & John Hopson)

User-centered Design in Games , in the Second Edition (2007) of the Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. (Written by Randy Pagulayan, Kevin Keeker, Thomas Fuller, Dennis Wixon, Ramon Romero, and Daniel Gunn)

Halo 3: How Microsoft Labs Invented a New Science of Play , by Clive Thompson. Wired Magazine. (Featuring Randy Pagulayan)