Epic Games, one of the world’s top video game and related technology developers, is putting on a talent-laden video game development conference in Durham on Thursday with an emphasis on user experience.

The Game UX – short for user experience – Summit features a host of speakers plus programs focusing on game design, usability and product development.

“We are organizing the first Game UX Summit dedicated exclusively to video games and apps, to discuss the current state of UX in our industry, share best practices, and spread our love for science and compelling experiences,” says Celia Hodent, director of user experience at Epic.

“This summit will bring together renowned speakers from various UX-related disciplines: Human Factors, Human-Computer Interaction, UX Design, User Research, Behavioral Economics, Analytics, and more.”

The topics will be discussed by a big roster of industry leaders.

“We’ve secured an extremely high-quality roster of talent, including Dan Ariely and Don Norman,” says Dana Cowley of Cary-based Epic.

Ariely is professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, and  Norman is director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego.

“We welcome anyone with an interest in usability, user-focused design and product development to attend,” Cowley adds.

For those interested in virtual reality development, Epic is putting on a class at its Cary headquarters on Friday.

Mission for the conference

In touting the conference, Hodent says emphasis is being placed on user experience, not just apps and the latest technology.

“Developing games and apps is about much more than just functionality. With thousands of games and apps out in the market, standing apart from the crowd is more challenging than ever before,” she explains.

“That’s one reason why considering the user experience is crucial for developers. It is also about understanding how the end user or player is interacting with your game or app, and verifying that your design intentions are the ones ultimately felt by your audience. UX-focused design is also about saving time and resources, and refining the overall development experience through fast iteration and quickly finding critical issues.

At Epic Games, we strive to offer both our players, and our Unreal Engine developers, a compelling experience. Like many other studios, we embrace UX knowledge, tools, and methodology to guide the development of our games and products. Although the UX discipline is becoming increasingly popular in our industry, it is only taking its first strides, and we have a lot of catching up to do.”

Speaker lineup

Guest speakers include:

  • Dan Ariely – Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics – Duke University
  • Jennifer Ash – UI Designer (Destiny) – Bungie
  • Fran Blumberg – Associate Professor of Psychological & Educational Services – Fordham University
  • Asi Burak – CEO – Power Play
  • Chris Grant – User Experience Director – King
  • Ian Hamilton – UX designer and accessibility specialist – Independent
  • Anders Johansson – Lead UI designer (The Division) – Massive Entertainment
  • David Lightbown – User Experience Director (Technology Group) – Ubisoft Montréal
  • Ian Livingston – Senior User Experience Researcher – EA Canada
  • Steve Mack – Researcher and Analyst – Riot Games
  • Anne McLaughlin – Associate Professor of Psychology – North Carolina State University
  • Don Norman – Director of the Design Lab – University of California, San Diego
  • Matthew Peterson -Co-founder, CEO and Senior Scientist – MIND Research Institute
  • Andrew Przybylski – Experimental psychologist – Oxford Internet Institute
  • Jordan Shapiro – Senior Fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center – Sesame Workshop

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