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Tomb Raider Co-Discovery Study

UW HCDE 517 Usability Testing


I conducted a user research study of an Xbox game for Microsoft's Studios User Research team. With a small team, we investigated the insights an experienced player provides to a novice player during the first hour of gameplay of the 2013 version of Tomb Raider for the Xbox 360.

The project required the development of a rigorous study plan, execution of the study with 8 participant pairs, and analysis and presentation of our findings.

Through the project, I learned a lot about usability testing and gained experience in designing a study to accomplish a particular research goal.

Tomb Raider box art.


Rather than conduct a standard usability test, our stakeholder at Microsoft Studios User Research expressed an interest in studying the interaction between experienced and novice players. In particular, she was interested in the ways in which experienced players' insight supplements the information given to the novice by the game alone in hopes of being able to leverage this kind of social instruction into future games.

To meet the needs of both the class and the stakeholder, we are in the process of conducting structured research by observing participants as they interact.


We first developed user profiles and personas in order to identify our target audiences and be able to understand and communicate about realistic individuals, respectively. Our profiles and personas focus on two main user groups: novice players, who have played console games but have limited experience in the action/adventure genre, and experienced players, who are active gamers who have extensive experience in this particular game.

A persona that we created to better understand our target novice player and to be able to communicate about her more effectively.

Since posting this project, we have written a study plan and have run 9 pairs of users through our study. Our next step is to summarizing our observations and create a report of our findings.

Check back for more details throughout the winter quarter.


A slide from our presentation highlighting our four main findings.
A slide from our presentation showing one of our observations and recommendations.

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