Designing Cloud Gaming Experiences

June 9, 2021

In Episode 41 at Designdrives, I chat with Kristie Fisher, Staff UX Researcher at Google. Kristie is currently conducting UX Research at Google Stadia, after getting experience on Google Workspace and Google Ads, and has previously worked at Xbox within Microsoft.

Cloud Games

The experience of gaming has changed vastly in the last few years; games are no longer a simple linear experience of the player completing levels. They are far more complex, and many are built around social interaction, which we can see with the rise of e-sports. Cloud gaming is a relatively new field in gaming, Kristie gave some insights on what Google is doing in this field with Google Stadia.

“Games like Fortnite, which has around 250 million registered users, mostly young people, has become their social hub. So, cloud gaming is not just about playing the game, it’s about having this community. It’s about interacting with people all over the world. It’s about this shared experience.” — Kristie Fisher

The level of interactivity that cloud games are bringing among the players is interesting for both designers and researchers, and it involves a lot of technical innovation as well.

Fortnite is one of the biggest and most popular games in history.

“eSports are replacing more traditional sports in terms of shared interest and shared identity with people all over the world.”

UX Research for Cloud Games

Designing a game is a challenging task, and research plays a critical role in the process. While sharing her experience related to UX research at Google Stadia, Kristie told that UX research for cloud gaming requires close collaboration with other disciplines including the production team, game designers, artists, technical people, as well as other UI/UX at Google.

“Any key decision that needs to be made in terms of what we’re going to build in a game, how we’re going to build it, how we’re going to assess the experience, that’s all discussed collaboratively. Even though everybody has their own expertise that they bring to the table, we are all kind of trying to work together to make a great experience for the games.”

On a question related to UX research being done cross-platform among third party organizations, Kristie briefed that for third party organizations they are not doing embedded UX research, however, the UX team including both designers and researchers help the organizations to bring their game to Stadia and provide their support to integrate with any exclusive features about Stadia that they want to consider.

UX Design for Cloud Games

The process of conducting UX research and designing experience for cloud games is similar to other design tasks and UX designers are critical part of the process. Both UX researchers and designers collaborate to follow the design process.

For example, to conduct usability testing of an early prototype of a game at Stadia, the UX researchers sit with the design team and observes the participants. Then both researchers and designers work together to analyse the findings and define improvements to make the games experience fun for the users.

Human Emotions and Cloud Games

A key part of UX research for cloud games is to understand what emotions you are trying to induce in the users and what is the experience that you want to provide them. Kristie mentioned,

“Once we’ve established our goals, experientially and emotionally, for the player, then it’s our job as researchers to try to measure it throughout the development process and figure out whether we meeting those goals or not, and what can we change in the game or in our vision to reach to the desired outcome.”

Besides the actual gaming experience, passive ‘watching’ eGames is becomes incredibly popular.

The purpose of a game is to achieve a cognitive flow state where the user is very immersed, and they are absorbed in the current moment in a way that they lose the sense of anything around them. As a UX researcher, the goals should be to enforce the person to be present at the moment only and do not feel interrupted by any other thing. The whole idea is to give the user a feeling of getting away from their day to day realities and immerse in this virtual world.


Games have been the main driver of new types of human-computer interaction over the decades. And Stadia is now working on the innovative idea of using cloud computing in order to design games. The extensive research that being done at Stadia provides the players an experience of pleasure and competition at the same time.

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