Interviews and questionnaires

(c) 2017 Petri Lankoski

Collecting data about design artifacts using interviews and questionnaires with open questions




We want to find out what kind of associations respondents has towards different level design choices. To survey this we can, for example, use the following questionnaire. “>” indicates a text field for answering the question.

Fig showing a part of the level

Describe the scene using five substatives or adjectives
1 >
2 >
3 >
4 >
5 >

Describe what the scene is about

This will produce very limited data about the artifacts. Different types of questions need to be used we are after more nuanced answers. Let’s say we are interested in features relating sympathy and antipathy towards player-characters. Here is an example of a potential question. In this, the respondents should have played the game.

Which character you played? 

Describe the character:

Describe what you did not like about character (e.g., looks, moral 
stance, actions)? 

Describe what liked about the character?

How did the character influenced your motivation to play?

Is there anything more you want to add?

This set of questions works also semistructured interviews.


Structured and semistructured interviews

These are suitable to collect data about respondents interpretations and feelings about specific game features or short play sessions. For longer sessions, stimulated recall interiews can be a better approach (see below).

In structured interviews, a specific set of questions is asked of respondents in particular order. The interview, in this respect, resembles the above-presented questionnaire method. Semistructured interviews, on the other hand, has set of questions that are intended to be covered during the interview, but interviewers can add questions, ask questions in different order or not ask questions if respondents already provided an answer to those questions.

Stimulated recall interviews

A stimulated recall interview is a suitable method to explore various aspects of game experience or decision-making in relation to specific game events. Before the interview, the participants play a game studied. The play-session is recorded. Researchers mark the events they want to discuss with the respondents while they are playing the game or after that (but before the interview). During the interview, a segment is shown to the respondent and questions about that specific events are asked.

Furher reading:Pitkänen (2015)

  • Pitkänen (2015)