Greetings! Thanks for visiting my blog dedicated to psychology, user experience (UX), and video games. Let me introduce myself so you know whom you’re reading and what to expect.
I have a PhD in Psychology, which I obtained at the University of Paris 5 Sorbonne (France). I’m specialized in cognitive development (the subject of my thesis was language-specific effects on number computation in toddlers if you’re really curious) and I’m very interested in how the human brain learns and processes its environment. Our cognitive biases will also never cease to fascinate me …
I grew up playing a lot of games, including video games; because of this I felt compelled to walk away from academic research and enter the gaming industry. I first joined Vtech, a toy and educational game manufacturer, in 2005. Then, in 2008, I started an exciting quest about how neuroscience can help developers to design better video games at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab think tank (Ubisoft HQ, France). I worked more specifically with the ‘Games for Everyone’ department, on My Coach series for Nintendo DS. I also developed a training session exploring how the brain learns for Ubisoft’s Design Academy.
In 2010 I joined Ubisoft Montreal and worked in the Playtest Lab department to focus on user research and user experience. I conducted research or participated in design discussions for many cool Ubisoft franchises, such as Rainbow 6, Driver, Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs. Later, I worked at LucasArts on Star Wars: 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault (and some iOS games) only to see them cancelled and the studio closed. Sadly.
Today, I’m Director of User Experience at Epic Games, building UX practices and strategy for the studio. I’m working on Paragon, Fortnite, Spyjinx, Unreal Engine 4, and many other exciting projects.
My main goal with this blog is to share my knowledge and experience about how psychology can help build a better experience for the player, in the most concrete and applicable way possible. I also want to start a conversation with you, whether you’re a game developer, a UX specialist, a psychologist, a gamer, and/or simply curious about the subject. So don’t hesitate to contact me via twitter or Linkedin. Note that the opinions expressed in this blog are my own.
UX is fairly new to the video game industry and it’s not a hard science. Even if the approach in UX wants to be scientific, a video game studio is very different from an academic research lab. The developers’ goal is not to publish a scientific paper. They have a game to ship, with limited time and a limited budget, and they are usually passionate about their creations. Also, our knowledge about the brain is still very shallow, and the human mind is very complex. Please keep all that in mind when reading this blog. Lastly, dear reader, feel free to share your thoughts and give me feedback!
I hope this blog will offer you a relevant and interesting experience … 😉
Book, Articles, Talks, & More:
Hodent, C. (2017). The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can Impact Video Game Design. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. –> out on August 26th, 2017: available for pre-order on Amazon and CRC Press
Chairwoman, Game UX Summit 17 hosted by Ubisoft Toronto (October 4-6 2017, Toronto).
Speaker at FMX (May 4th 2017, Stuttgart, Germany). Impact of Neuroscience and UX on Game Design.
Speaker at GDC (March 2 2017, San Francisco, CA). The Gamer’s Brain, part 3: The UX of Engagement and Immersion (or Retention)
Advisor, GDC17 UX Summit, February 2017, San Francisco, CA
Marraine (Godmother, or Mentor) at ENJMIN (Angoulême, France) for year 2016-2017
Interviewee for IGN (February 2017). Unsung heroes of the Games Industry: UX Specialists
Speaker at Practice 2016 (November 2016, NYU Game Centre, NY)
Speaker at Hopscotch Design Festival (September 2016, Raleigh, NC)
Speaker at Game for Change Festival (June 2016, New York City, NY). UX in Educational Games
Speaker at Nordic Game (May 2016, Malmö, Sweden). How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Design
Host, curator, and masterclass trainer for the Game UX Summit (May 2016, Durham, NC).
Speaker at GDC (March 2016, San Francisco, CA). How We Introduced UX to Epic Games’ Production Pipeline (with Heather Chandler)
Speaker at GDC (March 2016, San Francisco, CA). The Gamer’s Brain, part 2: UX of Onboarding and Player Engagement.
Speaker at NCSU Libraries (February 2016, Raleigh, NC). Video Games, Psychology, and the User Experience
Article: The Elusive Power of Video Games for Education. Gamasutra, August 1st, 2016.
Masterclass Trainer at MIGS (November 2015, Montreal, Canada). Whole-day training on Neuroscience and UX applied to video game development.
Masterclass Trainer at Game Connection (October 2015, Paris, France). Whole-day training on Neuroscience and UX applied to video game development.
Speaker at Innovate Raleigh’s Summit (September 2015, Raleigh, NC), as Leadership Lab facilitator.
Interviewee for The Psychology of Video Games. Podcast 6 (August 2015) Using Psychology to Craft User Experiences, by Jamie Madigan.
Interviewee for Game Compatible’s Throwback Thursday (April 2015).
Speaker at NC State University nexUX Meetup (April 2015, Raleigh, NC). The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can impact Design.
Speaker at ECGC (April 2015, Raleigh, NC). The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can impact Design.
Quoted in The Psychology of Video Games (April 2015). Three GDC 15 Talks on Psychology and Video Games, by Jamie Madigan.
Interviewee for Full Sail On Air Studio (March 2015, Orlando, FL). Watch the video here.
Panel Speaker at Full Sail Hall of Fame (March 2015, Orlando, FL). Why UX might be the Two Most Important Letters in Gaming, with Theresa Becker, Adams Greenwood-Erickson, Grant Shonkwiler, and Shawn Stafford (moderator).
Speaker at GDC (March 2015, San Francisco, CA). The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can impact Design. *Top-ranked*
Speaker at GUR Summit (March 2015, San Francisco, CA). UX Invaders: We come in peace! How we can collaborate with game developers to frame “fun”.
Article: 5 Misconceptions about UX (User Experience) in Video Games. Gamasutra, April 6th 2015.
Speaker at MIGS (November 2014, Montreal, Canada). How we are using UX practices on Fortnite.
Speaker at GDC Europe (August 2014, Cologne, Germany). Developing UX Practices at Epic Games.
Speaker at Games for Change Europe (June 2014, Paris, France). User Experience in Playful Learning.
Article: Serious Games for Health: Features, Challenges, Next Steps – Moderators: Fran C., Burke Lauren C. Participants: Celia Hodent, Evans Michael A., Lane H. Chad, and Schell Jesse. Games for Health Journal. October 2014, 3(5)
Quoted in Maheux, F. and Morin-Simard, A, (2014). Les jeux vidéo au coeur de l’art, de la culture et de la société. Les Musées de la Civilisation du Québec. Variations, Objets et Savoirs, 1.
Quoted in Polygon (2014). Epic Games wants to stray from red vs. blue, female character re-designs more ‘combat ready’, by Jenna Pitcher.
Book chapter: Hodent, C. (2014). Toward a Playful and Usable Education. In Blumberg, F.C. (Ed.) Learning by playing: Frontiers of Video Gaming in Education. Oxford University Press.
Panelist in the Epic Game’s Unreal Tournament Live Stream (July 2014). Unreal Tournament Concept Art Review and User Experience.
Speaker at Escapist Expo 2013 (October 2013, Durham, NC). From the Garage to the Laboratory: How Science Impacts Game Design and Development.
Speaker at UQAM (2011, Montreal, Canada). Cerveau, Jeux vidéo, et Utilisabilité (brain, video games, and usability). Colloque “Informatique cognitive et sa place dans l’industrie”.
Speaker at UX Masterclass (2010, Montreal, Canada). Brain, Usability, and Video Games.
Speaker at Musée Suisse du Jeu (2009, La-Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland). The positive impacts of video games.
Speaker at Game+Learning+Society Conference (2008, Madison, WI). From pure entertainment to playful learning.
Speaker at Festival du Jeu Video (2008, Paris, France). The benefits of playing video games.
Speaker at Festival du Jeu Video (2007, Paris, France). Video games and the child development.
Speaker at Institute of Psychology (2007, Fribourg University, Switzerland). Benefits and limitations of the use of digital educational toys and games by young children.
Audition – Can Video Games Promote Intergenerational Play & Literacy Learning? Research & Design Workshop conducted by the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, the University of Michigan School of Education and Learning Sciences, and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop (2009).
Audition – L’Enfant et les écrans. Academy of Sciences, France (2006).
Article: Hodent-Villaman, C. (2007). Les jeux vidéo sont-ils bons pour le cerveau? (Are video games good for the brain?). Sciences Humaines, 178.
Article: Hodent-Villaman, C. (2007). Les jeux éducatifs (educational games). Cerveau & Psycho, 24.
Book chapter: Hodent-Villaman, C. (2007). Psychanalyse et neuroscience: Conflit ou réconciliation? In Molinié, M. (Ed.) La Psychanalyse: Points de vue pluriels. Editions Sciences Humaines.
Audition – Les jeux vidéo et l’éducation artistique et culturelle, conflits, complémentarités et perspectives. Haut Conseil de l’Education Artistique et Culturelle. French Ministry of Culture and Communication (2006).
Article: Hodent-Villaman, C. (2006). Le langage gestuel des bébés. Cerveau & Psycho, 17.
Article: Lubin, A., Pineau, A. Hodent, C., and Houdé, O. (2006). Language-specific effects on number computation in toddlers: A European cross-linguistic cartography. Cognitive Development, 21, 11-16.
Article: Hodent, C., Bryant, P, and Houdé, O. (2005). Language-specific effects on number computation in toddlers. Developmental Science, 8, 420-423.
Article: Féron, J., and Hodent, C. (2002). Preverbal numerical abilities and their evolution. Intellectica, 1, 211-230.
Book (thesis): Hodent, C. (2004). Que deviennent les capacités protonumériques du bébé après l’apparition du langage? Lille: ANRT