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Xbox Research

We are a team of researchers at the forefront of gaming at Microsoft. As the preeminent source of consumer-focused entertainment research and insights for Xbox and Microsoft Studios, our researchers provide impactful analyses & strategic guidance that drive ongoing player engagement and enjoyment in our games, franchises, and platforms.


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


See the links below for more information. We can be reached at

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Team Bios Participate! Job Opportunities

Recent Press & Publications

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Reducing Biases in User Research, talk at #gamesUR, 2017 (Jerome Hagen and Melissa Boone)

How Design Can Ensure Impartial Scientific Fairness in User Research, talk at GDC 2017 (Deborah Hendersen)

Guidelines for Inclusive and Accessible Games, talk at #gamesUR, 2017 (Lauren White and Tom Lorusso)

Quantum Break – A Tour of Methods We Used To Test This Rather Odd Product, talk at #gamesUR, 2017 (Deborah Hendersen)

Designing for Gamers with Deafness, talk at #gamesUR London, 2016 (Given by Tom Lorusso)

Fireside Chat PS Loves Xbox, keynote at #gamesUR, 2016 (Featuring Kevin Keeker and Randy Pagulayan)

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)

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