Data Analytics Applications in
Gaming and Entertainment


The last decade has witnessed the rise of big data in game development. In the wake of this process, data mining and analytics have received growing interest and importance in game production to process and draw actionable insights from large volumes of player-related data in order to inform game design, to ensure customer satisfaction, to maximize revenues, and to drive technical innovation.


Written by subject experts from academia and industry, this edited volume seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of data analytics applications pertaining to various aspects of game production. By covering a wide range of topics as well as basic and advanced data analytics and visualization techniques, the book will be useful to readers with a wide range of backgrounds and interests.


Topics covered include: player profiling, customer life-time value and churn prediction, matchmaking, analysis of player communities and the associated possibilities and challenges, visualization of in-game data, and practical advice on communicating analytic results to non-experts.
The book can be ordered from your favorite bookseller, including   CRC Press


A Brief Overview of Data Mining and Analytics in Games
Evaluating Gamer Achievements to Understand Player Behavior
Building Matchmaking Systems
A Data Science Approach to Exploring Hero Roles in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Games
Predicting Customer Lifetime Value in Free-to-Play Games
Advanced Data Science Models for Player Behavioral Prediction
Integrating Social and Textual Analytics into Game Analytics
Social Network Analysis Applied to Game Communities to Identify Key Social Players
Methodological and Epistemological Reflections on the Use of Game Analytics Towards Understanding the Social Relationships of a Video Game Community
An Analyst's Guide to Communication
A Taxonomy of Visualizations for Gameplay Data
Co-design of an Interactive Analytics System for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Game Occurrences


Günter Wallner is Assistant Professor at the Eindhoven University of Technology and Senior Scientist at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He holds a doctorate degree in natural sciences from the University of Applied Arts Vienna and a diploma degree in computer science from the Vienna University of Technology. His research interests lie at the intersection of games user research, data analytics, and information visualization. His work particularly centers on understanding player behavior in games and on researching methods to explore and communicate the collected data to derive actionable insights for game design and development. As a leading expert in game-data visualization, he is developing novel visualizations to support the analysis of the increasingly large-scale player behavioral datasets. Günter is an active member of the games research community, has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, and has received various awards and recognitions for his work on games. Follow @wallnergue


África Periáñez holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Reading (UK), a Master of Advanced Studies in String Theory Physics carried out at CERN, and a M.Sc. in Theoretical Physics from the Autonomous University of Madrid. África is the CEO of Yokozuna Data, a Keywords Studio. She leads a team of data scientists and engineers who develop a state-of-the-art machine learning platform that predicts individual player behavior. She is a senior data scientist and researcher with 12+ years of experience. She has worked as a research scientist at CERN (under a Marie Curie individual fellowship), RIKEN in Japan (working with the world's fourth-fastest K-computer), DWD in Germany (German Weather Service, working in satellite data assimilation), or the University of Reading in the UK. She is the co-author of multiple peer-reviewed articles and has been a speaker in more than 20 international conferences and many regular seminars. She also has significant industry experience at SPSS Inc., IBM, Silicon Studio, and now Keywords Studios. Using cutting-edge machine-learning and statistical techniques, she aims to obtain a thorough understanding of players' behavior and to accurately predict their actions in order to contribute to the development of amazing data-driven games. Her main research interests include ensemble-based methods, deep learning applied to time-series forecasting, and Bayesian approaches to predict player reactions. Follow @aperianez

Alex Zook is a Senior Data Scientist at Blizzard Entertainment with a PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing. He researches technologies to improve game design and development and formally model game design through artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a researcher he has worked on systems for generating (simple) complete games, analyzing game strategic spaces, tailoring games to players, and enabling computers to be computational playmates. At Blizzard he has worked on matchmaking systems for Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch; toasting systems for Heroes of the Storm; player modeling for World of Warcraft; and acts as the discipline leader for data science at Blizzard.

Ana Fernández del Río received the B.Sc. degree in Theoretical Physics from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, in 2003 and the M.Sc. degree in Statistical Physics of Complex Systems from the National Distance Education University, Madrid, Spain, in 2011. She is currently a Senior Research Data Scientist at Yokozuna Data, a Keyword's Studio, in Tokyo, Japan. Her main goal is to understand and predict individual player behaviour, developing models that can be used in production. She was previously working for the Data Assimilation Unit of the Research Department of the German Weather Service, where her work focused on ensemble assimilation techniques and satellite observations. With over 12 years experience in Data Science, she has lead projects for the data science industry in Spain and Brazil, and has also research experience in academic environments (National Distance Education University).

Anna Guitart received MSc. degrees in Theoretical Physics and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Barcelona and the Polytechnique University of Barcelona, Spain, in 2013 and 2015, respectively. She currently works as Research Data Scientist at Yokozuna data, a Keywords studio, Tokyo, Japan, since she joined in 2015. Anna is co-author of five peer-reviewed articles in Game Data Science. She is specialized in time-series forecasting and validation methods. Her current line of research focuses on individual player behavioral prediction applied to video games, working in an item prediction recommendation and survival churn prediction.

Alessandro Canossa has been straddling between the game industry and academia for many years. As Associate Professor at Northeastern University he employed psychological theories of personality, motivation and emotion to design interactive scenarios with the purpose of investigating individual differences in behavior among users of digital entertainment. His research focuses heavily on these topics: a) developing behavioral analysis methodologies that are able to account for granular spatial and temporal events, avoiding aggregation; b) design and development of visual analytics tools that can enable any stakeholder to produce advanced statistics, predictions and datamining reports. As Senior User Researcher and Data Warden at Massive Entertainment he enjoys tremendously investigating occult behavioral patterns and is happiest when he can triangulate data-driven insights with surveys and lab observations to provide reports for production teams. At the same time, he is involved with the Live Ops team to improve data culture and devise novel player segmentation approaches. He also established a workgroup to identify the best processes for transferring knowledge from academic research to industry practices and to bring Ubisoft at the cutting edge of the game analytics culture.

Casper Harteveld is an Associate Professor of Game Design at Northeastern University, has affiliated appointments in Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, and with the School of Law, and works closely with faculty in Marine Science and Public Policy. His research focuses on using games to study and improve decision-making, and through these efforts both to advance our knowledge and to engage a broad cross-section of people globally about societal issues. He applies games especially in areas where it is challenging to study and educate in natural environments and collects detailed and expansive behavioral data in a controlled manner. Working across disciplines, Dr. Harteveld has designed and evaluated games on flooding, urban heat islands, debris collection, and pro se litigants. He is a strong proponent of integrating research and education and a significant portion of his work is devoted to translating research outcomes to the classroom or informal settings, in order to make sure that the next generation is ready to deal with the societal challenges of the 21st Century. For his work, Dr. Harteveld was awarded the Young Talent Prize of Information Systems, Special Prize for best dissertation in simulation & gaming, five National Science Foundation awards, and DARPA's Young Faculty Award. He is also a National Science Foundation Fellow of the Next Generation of Hazards & Disasters Researchers program.

Choong-Soo Lee is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at St. Lawrence University. He received his PhD in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2010, and began his teaching career as a visiting assistant professor at Gustavus Adolphus College before coming to St. Lawrence University in 2013. His doctoral research involved characterization of streaming and interactive multimedia applications and their quality of experience improvements in residential networks. Since then, his research interests have expanded to include online video games and esports analytics. His research has appeared in the ACM Multimedia, ACM Multimedia Systems, International Workshop on Network and Systems Support for Games, and the Foundations of Digital Games.

Damir Slogar is the CEO and Founder of Big Blue Bubble. With over 25 years spent in game industry and credited for over 100 games across 20 different platforms, Damir is one of the most experienced industry professionals in Canada. Born and raised in Croatia, he started his career in the mid 80's as a programmer creating proprietary games for the MSX and Commodore Amiga. The next couple of years he spent in broadcasting; producing and hosting a live TV show devoted to video games and computer technology. In 1995, he started a video game magazine where he worked as the editor. In 1999, he moved to Canada and continued his professional career as a lead programmer, first in Sandbox Studios and later in Digital Illusions Canada. Damir established Big Blue Bubble in 2004, which has become one of the best known and highest rated mobile and handheld game developers in North America.

Enrico Gandolfi, Ph.D., is assistant professor in Educational Technology at Kent State University with the Research Center for Educational Technology. Previously he worked as an associate researcher at Luiss 'Guido Carli' University of Rome, Italy. His research interests span games and simulations for learning, augmented and virtual reality, accessibility and critical design in education, digital interfaces for special populations, and instructional streaming. He is author of several journal articles (e.g., for Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, Convergence, Games and Culture, Simulation and Gaming, E-learning and Digital Media, Information Visualization, Feminist Media Studies, International Journal of Information and Learning Technology) and book chapters (for publishers like Routledge, MIT Press, ETC Press) about these topics, and of the monographs Piloti di Console (Edizioni Paoline, 2011), Nerd Generation (Mimesis, 2014) and Independent Videogames (Unicopli, 2015). He was co-P.I. and key personnel for grants awarded by GAR Foundation and National Endowment for Humanities. He teaches Instructional Design, Educational Technology, Games and Simulations, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Researching Issues in Educational Technology.

Huamin Qu is a full professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His main research interests are in visualization and human-computer interaction, with focuses on urban informatics, social network analysis, e-learning, text visualization, and explainable artificial intelligence. He obtained BS in Mathematics from Xi'an Jiaotong University, China, MS and a PhD in Computer Science from the Stony Brook University.

Issam Heddad is a Master of Arts student in Communications at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He holds a graduate degree in Game Design from the Université de Montréal and a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the HEC Montréal. He is a member of the Homo Ludens research group at UQAM and currently works at Ubisoft Montreal as a consumer and market analyst.

Ivan Ramler is an Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at St. Lawrence University. He received his PhD (in Statistics) from Iowa State University in 2009 and has been at St. Lawrence since then. He was introduced to Multiplayer Online Battle Arena games in 2014 and became interested in esports analytics after realizing it was essentially the intersection of his earlier interests in numbers, sports, and video games. His research related to video games has appeared in the International Workshop on Network and Systems Support for Games, the Foundations of Digital Games, the RIT Sports Analytics Conference, and the Journal of Statistics Education.

Lareina Milambiling is a Masters candidate in the Department of Computer Science at Western University. Concurrently with her studies, Lareina interned at Big Blue Bubble through the Mitacs Accelerate program as an analyst focused on textual analytics and computational linguistics. Lareina's prior degrees at the undergraduate level in Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistics and at the Masters level in Linguistics, coupled with a Diploma in Computer Science, make her uniquely well suited to this line of research.

Maude Bonenfant is Associate Professor, at the Departement of social and public communication, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She holds a Ph.D in semiotics and specializes in online social networks and communities, social web and online communication, Big Data and AI, gamification and videogames. She holds a Canada Research Chair on Gamer Communities and Big Data and she is also co-director of the Research Laboratory for Social Media and Gamification, director of the Homo Ludens research group on gaming practices and communication and she is an active member of the research group GRISQ, focussing on information and surveillance in everyday life. She published the book Le libre jeu. Réflexion sur l'appropriation de l'activité ludique (Free play. Thoughts on the appropriation of playful activity) (2015, Éditions Liber) and has coedited six other books including Socialisation et communication dans les jeux vidéo (Socialization and communication in video games) (2010, Presses de l'Université de Montréal), and Identité numérique et multiple (Digital and multiple identity) (2015, Presses de l'Université du Québec). She currently leads several research projects, including "Big Data and video games: using digital tools to study an online gamer community" (CRSH 2018-2023).

Michael Katchabaw is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Western University and the Business Intelligence Director of Big Blue Bubble. His research focuses on various issues in game development and analytics, with dozens of publications and numerous funded projects in the area, supported by various government and industry partners. Michael's interests in games and big data led him to Big Blue Bubble for his most recent sabbatical from Western and he has headed up their Business Intelligence division since then, focusing on various aspects of game analytics and quantitative design.

Natalie Selin is the Data Manager at Paradox Interactive. Natalie leads a team of data scientists to provide valuable and actionable insights through data analysis and modelling. Natalie's mission is to make data analysis as easy to understand to the world as arithmetic. Natalie has five+ years working with data science in industries such as gaming, hospitality and e-commerce. When her head isn't filled with number crunching problems, she plays PC games and sometimes risks breaking a leg by going bouldering. Natalie can be reached at or on Twitter at Follow @gnatamania

Paolo Burelli is a senior data scientist at Tactile Games and assistant professor at the IT University of Copenhagen where he is part of the Computer Games Research and the Data Science and Society Lab. He is an expert in machine learning for user behavior modeling and prediction with more than 20 publications in international conferences and journals and years of experience in its industrial applications. Burelli completed his PhD in artificial intelligence at the IT University of Copenhagen with a thesis on virtual cinematography in computer games exploring possibilities to create computational models of the human perception of cinematography in interactive applications.

Patrick Deslauriers is a PhD candidate in communications at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He holds a masters degree in communications and specializes in videogames, online communities, social web, and online communication. He is also a course lecturer at UQAM and at the École des arts numériques, de l'animation et du design (NAD).

Pei Pei Chen received B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Computer Science from the National Taiwan University in 2014 and 2016, is the co-author of 6 papers published in international peer-reviewed journals and has over 5 years of experience in game-and music-related data science research. She is an expert in deep learning techniques and machine learning applied to sequential analysis. She currently works as machine learning engineer lead for Yokozuna data, a Keywords studio, focusing on developing scalable and operational machine learning system with big data infrastructure. Before joining Yokozuna data, she researched and developed machine learning algorithms applied to acoustic signal processing in National Institute of Informatics, in Tokyo.

Quan Li is a PhD candidate at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His research interest includes visualization and human-computer interaction, with focuses on online community visualization like gameplay, social media visual analytics, and explainable machine learning. He obtained his bachelor's degree from Wuhan University and master's degree from Tsinghua University.

Simone Kriglstein is scientist at the Austrian Institute of Technology and lecturer at the University of Vienna and Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien). She specializes in designing and evaluating user interfaces and interaction methods in different fields, including games. Toward this end, visualization of gameplay data has formed a cornerstone of her work. Her work has been published in international conference proceedings such as the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems and journals like Computer & Graphics and Computers in Human Behavior. She also acted as an organizational committee member for various conferences and workshops and served as programme committee member and reviewer for various conferences over the past years, including CHI, IEEE InfoVis. Simone has received or has been nominated for several awards for her work on games, including the German Game Developer Newcomer Award 2006. Follow @SKriglstein

Tom Apperley is a researcher and educator that specializes in digital games and other playful technologies. Tom is currently a University Researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies at Tampere University.

Ziming Wu is a PhD candidate at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His research interest includes human computer interaction and data-driven design. He received his bachelor's degree in Computer Science from South China University of Technology.

Xiaojuan Ma is an assistant professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She received her PhD in Computer Science at Princeton University. She was a post-doctoral researcher at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, and before that a research fellow in the National University of Singapore in the Information Systems department. Before joining HKUST, she was a researcher of Human-Computer Interaction at Noah's Ark Lab, Huawei Tech. Investment Co., Ltd. in Hong Kong.

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