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Our Founder

Top 100 Most Influential Women in Technology ~ Fast Company Magazine "How The iPhone Accelerometer Game Tilt Taps Into User's Emotions"

The Wonder Woman ~ Fast Company Magazine "How The iPhone Accelerometer Game Tilt Taps Into User's Emotions"

"It would be impossible to overestimate the extent to which Nicole Lazzaro's research has contributed to a better understanding of play in the context of videogames." - Chris Bateman, author of 21st Century Game Design

Nicole Lazzaro, the founder (in 1992) and President of XEODesign, Inc., has twenty years expertise in Player Experience Design (PXD) for mass-market entertainment products. Widely recognized as one of the top women working in video games and a pioneering, leading figure in mobile and social games, Fast Company considers Nicole one of the 100 most influential women in high tech, and Gamasutra voted her one of the Top 20 women working in video games. Nicole has spoken at the US State Department, and has been cited by Wired, Fast Company, ABC News, CNN, CNET, The Hollywood Reporter, and Red Herring. She has improved over 100 million player experiences and has worked with EA, Ubisoft, D.I.C.E., Lucas Arts, Disney, PlayFirst, The Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon on such popular franchises as three of the Myst series, Diner Dash, Fusion Fall, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, Jeopardy Online, as well as creativity coaching for the designers of The Sims.

Nicole was the first person to use facial expressions to measure player experiences and has done ground breaking research on the relationship of emotion to games: 4k2f.com

Published in 2004 her research discovered that people’s favorite player experiences (PX) generate strong emotions to create engagement. Called the Four Keys to Fun, Nicole found that best selling games offer at least three of four play styles: the Hard Fun from challenge and mastery, Easy Fun from exploration and role play, Serious Fun for relaxation and real work, and People Fun from the excuse to hang out with friends. The Four Keys to Fun framework for how games create engagement with emotion has inspired hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide to craft more emotions from play including world famous authors such as Raph Koster, Jesse Schell, Tom Chatfield, and Jane McGonigal. With the Four Keys to Fun developers access player's emotional response to innovate early in the development cycle where there is much less risk.

Nicole has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Stanford University where she also studied filmmaking and computer programming.

Find out more about Nicole's research in chapters she has written for the following books:

  1. Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Toward Creating Better Videogames, (2009). Editor Chris Bateman
  2. Game Usability: Advancing the Player Experience (2008). Editors Isbister K. & Schaffer, N.
  3. Beyond Barbie® and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming (2008). Editors Kafai,Y., Heeter, C., Denner, J., Sun, J.,
  4. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook, 2nd Edition by Jacko and Sears 2nd Edition (2007). Editors Jako, J. & Sears,

“If you care about Interaction Design, you should own this book. Exhaustive coverage by world authorities. … one book that covers the gamut. Highly recommended, highly practical.”
— Don Norman, Northwestern University and the Nielsen Norman group, Author of “Emotional Design” and “The Design of Everyday Things”

“Comprehensive and thorough coverage of all the important issues related to user interfaces and usability. A useful reference work for anybody in the field…”
— Jakob Nielsen, Author, “Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity” and “Prioritizing Web Usability”

Free white papers on emotion and games are here:

An avid photographer, Nicole enjoys sharing her unique perspective on Flickr.

Contact Nicole here: nlazz@xeodesign.com

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