User research and agile in the development of computer/video games

Marlene Jaeckel marlene.jaeckel at
Mon Feb 4 07:02:04 MST 2008

Hi Janus,

With an agile UEX approach you will do high-level, very broad modeling at
the beginning of the agile project to address the majority usability and UI
issues facing the team.  The details can come later on in development
scrums, but you do need a strategy. During development usability
practitioners should be embedded within the development team, working on UEX
tasks when needed but also working with their teammates on non-UEX
activities. User testing, including usability testing, is done throughout
the lifecycle, it isn't left to the end of the project where it is
invariably too late to act.

Bear in mind that there are a number of challenges to overcome if usability
professionals and developers are to work together effectively.

User experience methodologies are centered on the user whereas agile
methodologies take a broader view and focus on the stakeholder. In contrast
to UEX methods where you try to get a holistic view of the user needs and
come up with an overall plan for the user interface before starting
implementation, agile methods favor little up front design and instead focus
on delivering working software early.

Furthermore, the agile community follows a highly collaborative and fluid
organizational strategy where teams are self organizing.  This doesn't
appear to always be the case with user experience groups.  While a
centralized approach for usability is important to provide the needed
practices, tools, and standards, a strong organizational and management
hierarchy can be problematic.

To learn more, I'd recommend subscribing to the Agile Usability mailing list

Another resource I frequently refer to is "Software for Use: A Practical
Guide to the Models and Methods of Usage-Centered Design" by Constantine and
Lockwood. (ACM Press, 1999).

Hope this helps,
Marlene Jaeckel

On Feb 4, 2008 8:23 AM, Janus Rau Sorensen <janusrau at> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I work as a user research manager at a computer games developer.  The
> production is going more and more in the direction of the
> agile-methodology, and I wanted to pose the question, if any of you know
> of any relevant literature or had personal experience (and advice) as to
> how to implement user research processes (e.g. usability and UX) within an
> agile environment - both in general design and development, but especially
> related to the development of computer games.
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