Celia Hodent, PhD is an expert in game UX (user experience) and cognitive psychology. She is a consultant, speaker, and acclaimed author of The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX can Impact Video Game Design & The Psychology of Video Games.
I have a PhD in Psychology from the University of Paris 5 Sorbonne (France). I’m specialized in cognitive development (my thesis was about language-specific effects on number computation in toddlers). The performance, limitations, and biases of the human brain will never cease to fascinate me.
I’m the GDC UX Summit Chair and an adviser for the GDC UX Summit, so I’m always looking for interesting speakers to talk about Game UX for the conferences I help curate.
Having a UX mindset means putting humans first; putting users’ (players’) interests above business goals. Which is why I care about ethics and kicked off the Ethical Games initiative with academics and game developers.2005 – 2009
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.
In 2008, I started an exciting quest about how cognitive science can help improve the player experience at Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab think tank (Ubisoft HQ, France). I worked more specifically with the ‘Games for Everyone’ department, on the My Coach series for Nintendo DS. I also developed a training session exploring how the brain learns for Ubisoft’s Design Academy.2009 – 2013
I joined Ubisoft Montreal and worked in the esteemed Playtest Lab department to focus on user research and user experience. I conducted research and 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. Sadly, the LucasArts studio closed shortly thereafter.2013 – 2017
I joined Epic Games as Director of User Experience to develop UX practices and strategy for the studio. I mostly worked on Fortnite, but also on Unreal Engine 4, Paragon, Battle Breakers, Spyjinx, Robo Recall (VR) and other projects.
2017 – Present
I left Epic Games on October 2017 to become an independent consultant, working with companies from all over the world on video games UX and other projects. I’m also a member of the “Comité de la prospective” (CNIL, whose mission is to protect personal data, support innovation, and preserve individual liberties) since May 2018.
About This Website
My main goal with this site is to share my knowledge and experience about how psychology can help offer a better experience for players, in the most concrete and applicable way possible. Offering a better UX also means making a video game (or other products or services) more likely to be successful and reach business goals, while respecting the users. Thus, ethical considerations are equally critical when adopting a UX mindset.
I’m currently doing freelance consulting work. If you’re interested, you can visit this page. I’m also happy to exchange ideas around game UX, cognitive psychology, video games, inclusion, or ethics.
Visit my YouTube channel for even more videos of my talks about video games UX, education, cognitive psychology, game design, and games in general. You will also find videos from the Game UX Summit.
Book, Articles, Talks, & More
- Oct 2 – Ethics by Design, Keynote. Ethique et Jeux Vidéo, 10/2 at 6:40pm CET (France).
- Sept 5 – EVA, speaker, UX & Ethics in Video Games, Argentina.
- Aug 23 – SIGGRAPH, speaker, Unconscious Bias & Inclusion.
- Aug 20 – DEVCOM, speaker, Game UX & Ethics, 8/20 at 7pm CET (Germany).
- Aug 20 – Epiphany, fireside guest: Secrets of Game Design, 8/20 at 8am PT – 3pm GMT.
- Aug 6 – GDC Summer, Panel moderator, Addressing Ethics & Content Responsibility as Game Developers.
- Aug 4 – GDC Summer, Emotion in Game Design (A UX Perspective), 10am Pacific Time.
- July 16 – Games for Change Festival. Panelist: Raising Good Gamers Research.
- July 14 – Games for Change Festival (NYC, online), panel moderator: Addressing Ethics in the Game Industry. Watch the video.
- July 1 – Ludicious (Zürich, online): Human Flaws and the UX of Society: Implicit Bias & Inclusion in the Game Industry. July 1st, 1pm CET. Read the Game Industry Biz write-up.
- June 8 – PG Connects, speaker, Building Your Game’s UX Strategy Using a Scientific Approach.
- April 14: Free online webinar – Answer questions from students and aspiring video games UX folks (how to get into the game industry, paths to game UX, etc.).
- Feb 26 – Speaker, The Psychology of Fortnite. Dunedin, New Zealand,.
- Feb 25 – Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science. Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Feb 18 – Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science. Christchurch, New Zealand.
- Feb 14 – Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science. Wellington, New Zealand.
- Feb 13 – Speaker, Meetup Game Devs of W., Feb 13th at 6:30pm in Wellington, New Zealand
- Jan 30 – Speaker, Le UX de Fortnite : comment les sciences cognitives et le UX peuvent impacter la conception de jeux. Montreal, Canada.
- Jan 17 – Masterclass trainer, Implicit Biases and Games, Zurich University of the Arts (Switzerland).
- Jan 16 – Speaker, Serious Games for Ethics Training in Medicine, Zurich, Switzerland at the Collegium Helveticum /Zurich University of the Arts (program here)
- Jan 8 – Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science on January 8th in Lyon, France (in French)
- Masterclass trainer, Unconscious Bias & Inclusion at the Workplace in Culver City, CA on December 9th, 2019.
- Speaker, WIRED Festival Brasil, November 29th in Rio de Janeiro.
- Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science in Helsinki, Finland, November 20th.
- Speaker, Press Start and Slush, Helsinki, Finland, week of November 18th.
- Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive Science in Berlin, Germany, October 15th.
- Masterclass trainer, Unconscious biases, Inclusion, and Ethics in the Game Industry, Oct 4, Lille Area, France as part of the Game UX Summit 19 (participants need to attend the summit to be able to get a masterclass ticket)
- Chair, Game UX Summit ’19, Oct 2-3-4, Lille Area, France.
- Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science in Lille, France, October 1st, 2019
- Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science in London, UK on September 30, 2019
- Speaker, Trojan Horse was a Unicorn (THU), September 23-28, Malta.
- Panelist, UXPA LA: UX of Play, July 17th, Hollywood, CA.
- Speaker UX LA Meetup, July 11th, Los Angeles, CA.
- Keynote Speaker, Game Camp, June 24-25, Lille, France.
- Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science in Madrid, Spain on June 21st, 2019 (in English)
- Keynote Speaker, Experience Fighters, June 20, Madrid, Spain.
- Keynote Speaker, Games for Change Festival, June 18, New York, NY.
- Masterclass trainer, Game UX & Cognitive science in New York City, NY on June 17th, 2019
- Masterclass trainer, Game UX & Cognitive science in Culver City, CA on June 14th, 2019
- Masterclass trainer, Game-based UX & Cognitive science in San Diego, CA on Friday June 7th, 2019
- Masterclass trainer, Unconscious Bias & Inclusion at the Workplace in Culver City, CA on June 6th, 2019.
- Masterclass trainer, Game UX & Cognitive science in Culver City, CA on May 23rd, 2019 (sold out)
- Keynote Speaker, UXPA Boston, May 10, Boston, MA.
- Podcast Guest, TWiT Triangulation. Watch here / listen here.
- Speaker, GamesBeat Summit, April 24, Los Angeles, CA. Discussion with Andrea Rene about Unconscious biases, UX, and inclusion. Watch it here.
- Speaker, Devoxx France, April 19, Paris, France.
- Speaker, Reboot Develop Blue, April 11-13, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
- Speaker, GDC, “Ethics in the Game Industry”, March 20th 9am, San Francisco CA.
- Panelist, GDC, “Ethics in Artificial Intelligence”, March 19th (AI Summit), SF.
- Speaker, GDC UX Summit, Developing a UX Mindset on Fortnite, March 18th 4:40pm West Hall 2001.
- Advisor, GDC UX Summit, March 2019, San Francisco CA.
- Speaker, SXSW, “UX and Cognitive Science in Game Design”, March 15th 2019, Austin TX. This talk is supported by the Cultural services of the French Embassy in the U.S.
- Panelist, Viacom Spark, “So You Think You Want to Make a Game”, February 21st, Nickelodeon Burbank Studio, CA.
- Speaker, DICE, “Unconscious Biases & Inclusivity Workshop”, February 13th 2019, Las Vegas NV.
- Speaker, IxDA Interaction 19, “The UX of Fortnite“, February 6th 2019, Seattle WA.
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in Montpellier, France, January 25th (in French).
- Guest speaker, Université Paul Valéry, January 24th, Montpellier, France.
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science“, January 23rd, London, UK (sold out)
- Speaker, Pocket Gamer Connects, January 21st, London UK.
- Meetup, CNIL, January 17th, Paris Gobelins
- Meetup, Women In Games France, January 16th, Paris.
- Meetup & Speaker, School of PO, January 15th, Paris.
- Masterclass trainer, “Game-Based UX and cognitive science” in Sydney, Australia on December 12.
- Guest speaker, Santa Monica College, November 13th, Santa Monica CA.
- Guest speaker, Bradley University, November 9th, Peoria IL.
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in San Diego, CA, November 2nd.
- Speaker, San Diego Meetup, November 1st, San Diego CA.
- Speaker, Colombia 4.0, October 23-26, Bogotá, Colombia
- Speaker, DEVHR, October 22nd, Mexico City
- Speaker, 4C: Prague, October 5th (Prague, Czech Republic)
- Chair, Game UX Summit ’18, hosted by EA Vancouver. September 26-28 (Vancouver, Canada)
- Guest, CRI Université René-Descartes, September 20th (Paris, France)
- Guest, Prix Femmes du Digital Ouest, talk d’ouverture, Nantes (France), September 19th
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in Bordeaux, France, on September 17 (in French)
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in Lille, France, on September 14 (in French)
- Speaker, Social Media Club, Adobe, Paris, September 12th
- Speaker, DICE Cannes, September 10th (Cannes, France)
- Video, 10 Things You Might Not Have Noticed in Fortnite, Ars Technica
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in Melbourne, Australia, on September 4
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in Brisbane, Australia, on August 19
- Masterclass trainer, “Game UX and cognitive science” in Vancouver, Canada, August 10
- Speaker & Masterclass trainer, Tehran Game Convention, July 5th (Tehran, Iran)
- Podcast guest, The Psychology of Video Games, host: Jamie Madigan
- Speaker & Masterclass trainer, CGX Ottawa, June 23rd (Ottawa, Canada)
- Featured in Palmarès 2018 des Femmes Influentes (2018 selection of 50 influential women)
- Featured in Le Monde – Pixel – Celia Hodent, la psychologue française derrière le succès du jeu vidéo Fortnite (may 2018). English translation here.
- Featured in Newsweek – Fortnite UX lead reveals how science, talent, & luck made Battle Royale successful (June 2018)
- Featured in The Guardian – I was a video game sceptic but now I’m a fan, by Jessica Furseth (January 2018)
- Featured in CRC Press Author Q&A Session: Celia Hodent on January 2018 on ODBMS (a free chapter of my book can be downloaded)
- Mentor for Dan Ariely’s Center for Advanced Hindsight (since 2016)
- Speaker, Switchpoint Ideas, April 26-27 near Chapel Hill, NC.
- Chair, Game UX Summit Europe 18, April 4th in France
- Masterclass trainer “Game UX and cognitive science” – sessions in France (in French) in Paris and Lyon in late March 2018
- Advisor, GDC UX Summit, March 19th in San Francisco
- Masterclass trainer “Game UX and cognitive science” session in San Francisco on March 15th
- Speaker / Special Guest Netexplo Innovation Forum at UNESCO on February 13th 2018 in Paris, France. Watch the video
- Masterclass trainer “Game UX and cognitive science” – Digital District in Beirut, Lebanon, on February 10th, 2018
- Meetup guest / speaker – UX Applied to Game Development with Celia Hodent, Feb 9th 2018 in Beirut (Lebanon)
- Speaker at SUBOTRON Academy (January 25th 2018, Vienna, Austria) Fake News and Video Games
- Speaker at Butterfly Effect School in Bratislava, Slovakia (Jan 24th 2018)
- Speaker at Pixel Federation on January 23rd 2018 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
- Speaker at ISART Digital School in Paris (France) on January 18th, 2018
- Featured in VentureBeat guest post (September 2017). The Gamer’s Brain excerpt: Good UX is key to crafting fun
- Featured in O21 Le monde – Conférence “Se réaliser” (November 2017 in Nancy, France)
- Featured in Complément d’enquête (Les pirates de l’attention), documentary on French National TV (France 2), Nov 23rd 2017
- Featured in Creative Bloq How UX and neuroscience impact video game design, by Matt Suckley (September 2017)
- Featured in Polygon What will the game industry look like in five years?, by Patrick Stafford
- Featured in Pocket Gamer How the rise of UX has brought cognitive science to mainstream game development, by Matt Suckley (August 2017).
- Featured in Gameblog De la difficulté de la difficulté, by Grégory Szriftgiser (August 2017)
- Featured in Gamekult‘s podcast In Dev With Celia Hodent (September 2017, in French)
- Featured in Rock, Paper, Shotgun Don’t hate on tutorials, by Alex Wiltshire (June 2017)
- Featured in Three conversations: UX, transitions, and theatre, by Robin Kwong (May 2017)
- Featured in IGN (February 2017). Unsung heroes of the Games Industry: UX Specialists by Dan Staines
- Speaker at GEC (December 17th, Islamabad, Pakistan — giving the lecture remotely)
- Masterclass trainer at MIGS (December 11th and December 12th, Montreal, Canada)
- Speaker at The Camp (November 16-17, Aix-en-Provence, France)
- Speaker at MRMW Europe (Nov 9th, Berlin, Germany)
- Speaker at Clash of Realities (November 7-8 2017, Cologne, Germany).
- Masterclass trainer at Game Connection Europe (November 3rd, Paris, France)
- Chair, Game UX Summit 17 hosted by Ubisoft Toronto (October 4-6 2017, Toronto).
- Speaker at DEVHR (September 2017, Mexico City, Mexico — cancelled because the earthquake).
- Speaker at Game for Change Festival (August 2017, New York City, NY). What Do Fake News and Video Games Have in Common? Exploration of some human mind limitations and their impact on our behavior and our society
- 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
- Mentor at GLITCH (Guild Leader in 2017)
- Host, curator, and masterclass trainer for the Game UX Summit (May 2016, Durham, NC).
- Book chapter in the Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games (Springer, 2016): Cognitive Psychology Applied to User Experience in Video Games, which you can read here
- Article: The Elusive Power of Video Games for Education. Gamasutra, August 1st, 2016.
- Interview with Classcraft at Games for Change Festival 2016 (video).
- Featured in Polygon (January 2016). Brain Wave: The PhDs Changing the Games, by Patrick Stafford
- Featured in a Rosenfeld post by Laura Klein (July 2016) Whose Job Is User Research? An Interview with Celia Hodent
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Interviewed for The Psychology of Video Games. Podcast 6 (August 2015) Using Psychology to Craft User Experiences, by Jamie Madigan.
- Interviewed 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.
- Interviewed 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.
2010 – 2013
- 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.
- Interviewed for Le Lien Multimédia (2010). Le cerveau et l’expérience de jeu.
- Interviewed for Doc Pro News. CNRS Hebdo, 2010.
2007 – 2009
- 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.
- Interview Marchand, G. (2009). Neuropédagogie: Les jeux forment la jeunesse. Le Monde de l’Enfance, 5.
- Interview de Mallevoüe, D. (2008). Le troisième âge devient accro aux jeux vidéo. Le Figaro.
- 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.
2002 – 2006
- 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
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