Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:  

  • Learn how to plan user research
  • Discover how to obtain actionable insights from users
  • Recognize and apply different playability evaluation techniques
  • Carry out player-centred testing by conducting game playability tests
  • Understand the value of player centred game design

Credits: 3

Schedule: 19.10.2020 - 23.10.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Miikka Junnila, Maximus Kaos

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): April Tyack

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    This course focuses on games user research and how to evaluate games in terms of playability. It includes practical evaluation exercises.



    • Day 1:
      • Discuss the role of Games User Research in evaluating playability
      • Discuss Playability vs Usability
      • Learn methods for evaluating playability, including strengths and weaknesses of each method
      • Learn best practices for observing the player experience
      • Discover the roles used in observing player experience
      • Observe the player experience by taking on roles of moderator and note taker
    • Day 2:
      • Learn best practices for developing surveys
      • Become familiar with common surveys used in evaluating user experience
      • Develop a survey for gaining insights into the player experience
      • Conduct A/B experiments to evaluate playability
      • Administer post-game surveys to players
    • Day 3:
      • Learn the basics of using a professional statistics package to evaluate gameplay
      • Learn how to interview players about their experience
      • Apply the think-aloud protocol while observing the player experience
      • Interview players after experiments
    • Day 4/5:
      • Learn how to perform heuristic evaluation of gameplay
      • Apply heuristic evaluation to well-established games

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    To pass the course, students need to have at least 80% attendance and excercises done.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    One week full time workshop with lectures and exercises (35h). 

    Reading as homework assignments (10h).



Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Required: Games User Research, 1st Edition, ISBN-10: 0198794843, ISBN-13: 978-0198794844 (E-copies available through Aalto Library)

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Readings (to be completed before class each day)

    Day 1: Section 1.1, 15.2, Chapter 7, Sections 11.2-11.5, 11.7

    Day 2: Chapter 9, Chapter 12

    Day 3: Sections 10.1-10.6

    Day 4: Chapter 15

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Game Design recommended

Registration for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    In Weboodi, at the latest one week before the course starts.


    The order of priority for admitting students to courses at Aalto ARTS 1.1.2018 onwards (approved by The Committee of Arts, Design and Architecture on 10.10.2017)

    The order of priority is as follows:

    1. students for whom the course is compulsory for their major/programme and who have scheduled it for the current academic year in their personal study plan (HOPS);
    2. exchange students for whom the course is a part of his/her officially approved learning agreement and scheduled to be taken during the current semester;
    3. students for whom the course is compulsory for their major/programme and who have not completed it yet;
    4. students, for whom the course is part of his/her major s or programme s alternative studies and has been scheduled in the student's PSP (HOPS) for the current academic year
    5. students, for whom the course is part of his/her major s or programme s alternative studies and who have not completed the requisite number of credits for alternative studies yet;
    6. students for whom the course is compulsory for their minor;
    7. students, for whom the course is part of his/her minor subject s alternative studies and who have not completed the requisite number of credits for alternative studies yet;
    8. students who have applied for the course through a student mobility scheme (internal mobility within Aalto University, flexible study right (JOO) studies etc.);
    9. other students.


    Courses that are intended to be multidisciplinary (e.g. UWAS courses) may apply an order of priority based on the learning outcomes of the course, while bearing in mind the university obligation of enabling students to complete their degrees within the normative duration of study set for the degree. The order of priority does not apply to courses organised by the Centre for General Studies or doctoral courses.

    This decision on the order of priority does not influence the right of the teacher to define prerequisites for the course.


  • Applies in this implementation:

    Please note that this course will be held on-campus.