Blog: How to measure fun for game designers

The next weblog publish, until another way famous, was once written by means of a member of Gamasutra’s neighborhood.
The ideas and critiques expressed are the ones of the author and now not Gamasutra or its dad or mum corporate.


Disclaimer: Concepts on this paintings would possibly or will not be the similar as my present or earlier employers and or colleagues. Lots of the concepts right here aren’t my invention and are both extensively authorised items of data or are a part of referenced literature in spite of everything. Primary affect on paintings is from the ebook by means of Dougles Hubbart: The right way to measure the rest. I simply humbly synthesized those concepts to extra condense shape in hope that it’s going to lend a hand long run recreation creators. I’m hoping that you are going to have “amusing” and if this is the case, please write me your critiques on [email protected], or as a remark right here.


I imply, I kinda care, another way I might now not write about it. However, there exist many theories and definitions of amusing, and every of them is failing on one or some other entrance. Just right information is that we should not have to grasp what amusing is. What number of of you in truth know what kilogram actually is? It was once a weight of 1 liter of water, that occasions are lengthy long gone. However, we nonetheless use kilogram to weight gadgets round us. If I let you know that the item’s weight is 500 kg you are going to more than likely consider one thing of car-size. If I let you know that I misplaced 20 kilograms, you might see it as a large weight reduction. We do not want to know what precisely one thing is to make use of it in measurements. We simply want to know the way a kilogram (or in our case “amusing”) manifests on the planet. That is very true about intangible such things as opinion, faith, happiness, love, anger, well being and amusing. Intangibility by no means stopped us, why it must in case of amusing?

Now, taking into consideration now not most effective what amusing is, however the way it in truth manifests on the planet; anyone can say “I’ve amusing after I take a look at one thing a number of occasions, earlier than I am getting it proper, I believe challenged that approach.” or anyone would possibly frown, grip the controller very tightly whilst retrying the similar passage for a number of mins; is any of this amusing? I don’t know, however I do know that during my recreation a part of amusing must be being challenged and this turns out like gamers are being challenged. Issues which are taking place on the planet like gamers movements or gamers expressions, that we will be able to follow and subsequently measure are referred to as proxies. They aren’t immediately factor that we’re inquisitive about however, they display us how you can it

We don’t want to know exactly what x is to measure it. We want to know the way x manifests on the planet so now we have proxies to measure. 


First, a handy guide a rough detour to university. Why are we going to face on scale within the first position? We’ve got some inside (people) concept of the way our weight is hooked up to our bodily situation. Kilograms inside of a particular vary approach wholesome, outdoor of it approach bad.

We as people have heaps of such theories about the whole lot round us. We’ve got inside theories (also known as psychological fashion) describing why gadgets fall to the bottom or why our good friend behaves a undeniable approach. Thank you to those theories we will be able to are expecting that can occur if we throw a ball within the air and inform our good friend to catch it. 

Theories are clusters of hypotheses that are meant to be coherent with every different. A speculation is an evidence of the way x is hooked up to y. If x occurs then y must at all times react the similar to that tournament. Hypotheses in theories are interconnected; that signifies that if we all know what’s the dating between x and y and we additionally know what’s the dating between y and z, then we must have the ability to deduce the connection between x and z. 

Instances during which we all know really what the connection between x and y are very uncommon. In follow extra continuously than now not we aren’t seeking to get a real dating however as as regards to true as conceivable. Nearer to this example we’re, the simpler speculation now we have. By means of getting higher hypotheses we’re getting higher theories. If the speculation isn’t excellent sufficient we scratch it and get a hold of a brand new one. A speculation that doesn’t support our concept isn’t excellent sufficient. As soon as our speculation is excellent sufficient (or higher than beginning one) we replace our concept. As soon as now we have up to date concept we will be able to arrange a brand new higher speculation in line with it, after which the entire loop begins once more. With inside theories, we do that mechanically and unknowingly (simplified base for studying). When we make it specific we will be able to do it far more successfully and normally higher. That is an overly simplified core of the clinical way. After we are inquiring concerning the connection of our proxies and “amusing” we’re the use of exact same core ideas. We as recreation creators to this at all times, so I feel it’s time to take your next step and make it specific.

How are we able to do that subsequent step? Neatly first we need to arrange our speculation after which we need to measure it! That is the tip of the detour, now we will be able to take a look at proxies that is helping us with measuring.


After we stand on a scale, knowledge that we obtain is a host. Can we actually deal with the quantity or will we deal with the concept that this quantity represents – in case of a scale it’s our well being. Necessarily, Dimension is an approximation of 1 phenomenon to some other, until we get to an approximation that we perceive intuitively (or moderately one thing this is already a part of our inside concept). That’s the energy of proxy. Proxy is a phenomena about which now we have sufficient intuitive working out. Sure, other other folks could have a special intuitive working out of the similar subject. Junior designers would argue about who is correct, skilled designers would arrange an experiment for his or her theories after which measure the results. 

A super concept with dangerous measurements will result in worse effects than a vulnerable concept with nice measurements. Dangerous measurements will support concept just a bit (if in any respect) whilst excellent dimension can transfer concept by means of miles (that is iteration as soon as once more, you almost certainly heard of that earlier than). How do we all know measurements to select? Measurements have parameters:

  • Accuracy – Let stand on a scale as soon as once more and weight ourselves. If we weigh ourselves on a number of other scales, and every display roughly the similar quantity, then we all know the quantity is correct. Accuracy is the stage of truthlikeness of our dimension 
  • Precision – In the event you stand at the identical scale a couple of occasions in a short while. It’ll occur that you are going to see bit other numbers. Those can display you the way actual the dimensions in truth is. Nearer in combination those numbers are extra actual the tips is. 
  • Granularity of dimension – In the event you stand on a scale do you actually care about grams or kilograms? In case your determination is “must I devour cake lately” kilograms will probably be excellent sufficient. Alternatively if you’re a certified bodybuilder with an overly actual nutrition then sure, grams will also be essential for you. If you end up weighing your medication even milligrams could also be a line between treatment and poison.  

Evidently you’ll be able to consider, that every dimension could have other levels of every parameter. Obscure however correct weight will display +/- 25% of the actual worth every time you step on it. Scale with tough granularity will display most effective kilograms and actual however erroneous weight will display precise numbers every time however it’s going to be precisely eight kilograms off. In every case you are going to now not know precisely what you sought after to grasp however you are going to be nearer to the reality than earlier than. 

So why now not at all times have as actual, as correct and as granular dimension as conceivable? Neatly, as a result of it’s pricey; on the subject of cash, time and precise expertise. Measuring salt for your own home cook dinner dinner will probably be very other than measuring salt for royal wedding ceremony primary direction by means of a skilled chef. Other scenarios require very other stage of measurements. This all depends upon the verdict that you’re making. 


Design is a chain of selections about what to make and what to not make. To make this determination we want to have a concept about how every a part of our designed recreation works and what revel in it induces. To have the most productive conceivable concept we need to support it up to conceivable, and to support it we need to have as many as excellent measurements as it’s conceivable. Very best designers aren’t one, who assume they know the way issues must be, however those that are in a position to replace their concept as rapid as conceivable (and that is principally iteration on design).  

Each and every singular determination is hooked up to a particular subset of hypotheses in concept. Those are most often hypotheses referring to proxies or approximate to the proxies we use. Nearer the proxies are to our query more potent connection they’ve. Due to this fact to make determination we must measure and discover the nearest proxies. As an example: What you devour and what sort of you progress is nearer on your well being than gasoline intake of a bus for your town. However, each are a part of an power transformation concept. Therefore studying concerning the combustion machine would possibly lend a hand us with our nutrition, studying about energy will lend a hand us far more.

As you’ll be able to see, nearer the relationship extra worth we get from our funding. You must by no means make investments extra sources into measurements than you are going to get from it. What worth you’ll be able to get from making an investment in dimension? Neatly primary applicants could be quicker iterations, reducing alternative price, evading retroactive solving, evading out of scope or underneath scope options, more practical trying out.    


Probably the most unhealthy portions of accumulating knowledge is over-analyzing and over accumulating them. I’ve observed many builders do that. Do you assume you did not? When was once the final time you went thru Reddit or steam opinions after which got here again to the place of work with an entire new concept about what must you exchange? This may be the case of that. People are development making machines. We see faces in clouds, moods in yellow circles with dots and patterns the place there are none. Once in a while you’ll be able to have an excessive amount of knowledge in your personal excellent, particularly if knowledge aren’t correct or actual. To decrease the risk of the noise speaking you must at all times attempt to refutability by means of in search of counter examples and corroborate by means of using more than one other roughly measurements.


…and you do not actually want one (however they’re extraordinarily helpful and I like they all). It’s about correctly set parameters of dimension once more. Analyst will give you slightly actual and correct knowledge. No dimension in any respect will give you exactly and correctly no knowledge. There’s huge area between those two issues the place you’ll be able to function slightly cost effectively and rapid.

Listed below are some examples of measurements in quite a lot of levels. I can at all times upload complicated and minimum variant examples. I doubt that you are going to use the complicated variant anytime quickly, however this is adequate. Additionally take realize that it is only a easy summarization of a couple of strategies, it must serve extra as inspiration for added analysis than exhaustive checklist.



With this technique we’re in search of laws of thumb. Some quite simple laws that can result in particular penalties. That is area of “participant sort” of recreation creators and seniors who performed all of it already. Brief Heuristic research can expose so much even earlier than you get started the sport. Just right information is that you almost certainly already do that, simply now not systematically. As an example: Does this platformer have a coyote time and the way a long way? Does therapeutic potion have the similar color as well being (more than likely purple)? It’s widely known means in provider and product design (attempt to ask your closest UX fashion designer).  

  • Minimum variant: Simply play the sport. What are issues that you just anticipated to occur and didn’t. Display your recreation to anyone else who loves to play video games and concentrate for what they realize as first. 

  • Complex variant: Have extraordinarily detailed magazine consistent of various introspections in quite a lot of video games and cultural artefact. Give a boost to your heuristics by means of steady taking part in all conceivable video games. Make a library of patterns (Like you’ll be able to to find in Artwork of Sport Design by means of Jesse Schell or Sport Mechanics: Complex Sport Design by means of Ernest W. Adams and Joris Dormans)



Taking part in video games and seeing the way it works. What occurs within the recreation. It’s principally beginning the entire thing and seeing it working. There are numerous excellent articles, Reddit posts and movies on playtest for excellent explanation why. Playtesting is the cornerstone of any recreation building. In the event you aren’t doing this already then I have no idea what you might be doing. 

  • Minimum variant: Play the sport by yourself or with few other folks; once conceivable. Repeat at all times. 

  • Complex variant: oh boy, such a lot of. Kleenex playtesting, focal point crew trying out, corporate broad trying out. Have a devoted crew of professional gamers or ex professional gamers and allow them to play each new iteration of the sport…


Discursive research

Discursive research is the research of language utilized in context of a particular subject. Persons are expressing maximum in their comments by means of language (particularly on the web). Looking to glance into this language would possibly be offering an overly attention-grabbing image. 

As an example: in recreation Hunt: Showdown (2019) gamers created a brand new time period “instaburners”, this time period is a reference to those that begin to burn enemy gamers as soon as they’re downed. Burned gamers can’t be revived by means of their teammates. Instaburner is anyone who burns an enemy once conceivable. Incontrovertible fact that this new time period was once invented tells us so much about how continuously this occurs and how much connotations it will have in recreation.

  • Minimum variant: learn comments on video games and take into consideration the type of language other folks use. For instance: Do they are saying it’s “silly” or “dumb”?  It’ll have an overly other which means. Possibly attempt to ask in feedbacks “what sort of dumb it’s? The usage of phrase clouds to look phrase illustration in comments boards. 

  • Complex variant:

    • Device studying will acquire all comments on all conceivable comments websites, the place it’s going to review patterns, semantics and pragmatics of language.

    • The usage of Discursive drive (hi marvel mechanics) after which measure its affect on textual content.

    • Skilled language researcher analyze knowledge with tool as atlas.ti.

    • Any individual will dive deep into the neighborhood (neighborhood supervisor for instance) and can provide an explanation for to the crew what are gamers speaking about.  


Concept experiment/fashion

Once in a while you should not have to run the entire recreation to look the way it works. Once in a while it might in truth be impractical since you most effective want to know a portion of the sport (like financial system). Once in a while you want to chop thru complexity otherwise you simply don’t have some other 10okay gamers to play recreation 2 two hours an afternoon. Then you’re going for fashions. Do not omit that map isn’t territory; by means of making a fashion you might be omitting some portions of the entire machine. .

  • Minimum variant: describe all machine portions and dating after which get started imagining how it might paintings in combination, Merely ask “what if” query; small mathematical fashion #EveryDayIsSpreadsheetsDay.

  • Complex variant: Stochastic system studying mathematical fashion predicting maximum conceivable results in line with machine arrange. Ask your soon-to-be-very wealthy good friend about this. 


Area research

In area research you are going to undergo competition video games in sure domain names and search for commonalities and specifics. Area will also be the rest from option to third particular person digicam to style. At the beginning of any area research there are questions that you just like to respond to, issues that you wish to have to concentrate on. As an example in the event you would do area research on fight Royale you could to find out that every one of them have shrinking degree mechanisms in a technique or some other.

  • Minimum variant: play some competition’ video games and glance how they do stuff. Have a look at movies of playthroughs. Write down how they take care of particular instances.

  • Complex variant: Make in-depth research on particular mechanics together with knowledge mining. Body in line with body description of movements. Glance into interviews with creators. Plate the entire video games in style and checklist the entire portions and relationships in them.


Quantitative research

You’re measuring numbers after which the use of statistical research to get new wisdom. On this means, extra is most often extra. That is the sector of KPI and the F2P marketplace and there’s numerous nice subject material in this even on Gamasutra. No use for me to enter element. 

  • Minimum variant: play recreation and be aware each time you die in particular degree; Appearing easy scholar assessments in your marks in line with demise in degree; put easy scale (1 – five) in comments shape after which take a look at reasonable. 

  • Complex variant: complete blown analytics, purchasing knowledge from giant brothers. (I’m leaving legality and morality out of it for now). There are many firms who make their residing simply by this only for video games. Do not be frightened of them.



You’ll be able to in truth ask for other folks’s opinion. There are a host of issues right here which are hooked up to all qualitative analyses. Query shape, tone of your voice, even time since playthrough can exchange result. Neverthless, you could to find out very particular new knowledge about your recreation.   

  • Minimum variant: Let anyone play your recreation and ask them “what do you take into consideration it?”, simply allow them to communicate. Do not remark it, do not protect your recreation, simply ask and allow them to communicate.

  • Complex variant: Have complete on randomized analysis with a preset of meticulously selected questions and educated interviewers.  


  1. You do not want to know what x, simply the way it manifests on the planet

  2. Do not be frightened of dimension, it’s easy, simply observe the most important steps.

    • Outline what’s your determination

    • Construct your concept

    • Outline your absolute best conceivable speculation 

    • Outline what are the most productive conceivable proxies

    • Measure it! 

    • Give a boost to your concept, regulate speculation

    • Repeat b) – f) till you’ve excellent sufficient knowledge to decide.

  3. Beware the noise! Corroborate and check out to refute your speculation. Combining several types of measurements and repeated measurements will lend a hand so much.

  4. Low high quality dimension is best than non:

    • We don’t want to know what one thing is, we simply have to grasp extra about it than earlier than. 

    • We don’t want absolute best dimension, simply higher than earlier than. 

    • We don’t want absolute best concept, simply higher than earlier than.

  5. Measure with why (determination) in thoughts to stop losing sources. 



  • Hubbard, Douglas W., The right way to measure the rest: Discovering the worth of intangible in Trade. third version. Wiley: 2014. (Primary inspiration for this weblog and primary inspiration in my paintings)

  • Popper, Karl: The common sense of Clinical Discovery. Routledge: 2002 (oh yeah, I’m going there. Just for intellectually courageous)

  • Kuhn, Thomas. The construction of clinical revolution. College of Chicago Press : 2012. (scientists are other folks too)

  • Whelan, charles. Bare statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Knowledge. W. W. Norton Corporate: 2014.

  • Seidman, I. Interviewing as qualitative analysis: A information for researchers in training and the social sciences. Academics School Press: 2006.

  • Concept experiments,

  • Woodward, Matt. Balancing the Financial system for Albion On-line. (GDC communicate on albion on-line financial system, nice primer into financial system and fashion it.)

  • Ruskin, Elan. 3 Statistical Checks Each and every Sport Developer Will have to Know. (fast primer into statistics for recreation dev)

  • Collins, Steven. A/B Trying out for Sport Design Iteration: A Bayesian Method (You almost certainly didn’t be told the rest new from weblog above, and that’s adequate. You continue to can depart feedback about hating frequentism or smtg after which watch this video.)

  • Silver, Nate. Sign and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – however Some Do not.  Penguin crew: 2012.

  • Sasassovici, Alex  and Miravete, Beatriz. The right way to Use Device Studying, Are living Telemetry Research, and Laptop Imaginative and prescient to Arrange Communities. (oh sure, you’ll be able to support each aspect of the sport by means of dimension, even neighborhood control)

  • …and plenty of many extra! pass and discover, do not omit to measure your growth 😉


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