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Game Analytics - EPSRC NPIF PhD studentship in partnership with Square Enix West

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A Drachen
    Dr S Devlin
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The project: Game Analytics

Background: Last year the UK game industry generated over £4.3 billion in consumer spend. A major challenge facing the industry is to take better advantage of the vast user behaviour datasets that are available.

Objectives: To research the relationship between player behaviour, expressed via large-scale datasets, and motivational models; investigate the related problems of automatic data anomaly detection towards ensuring data quality and enable research into/construction of machine learning models permitting prediction of user behaviour and motivational evolution at large scales.

Novelty: A key challenge is connecting behaviour data with psychological models. Motivations for play and how these relate to in-game behaviours are crucial, as games are dependent on being able to cater to varied motivations, and predict how behaviour/motivation will evolve. Despite widespread interest there is minimal available knowledge.

Approach: the project is a big data project, and will be based on game analytics principles and driven by combinations of explorative and hypothesis-driven work as defined under the knowledge acquisition frameworks in data science.

Timeliness: With business models in the industry changing towards service models and games becoming more persistent, the ability to take action on behavioural data has become a focal point in building competitive edge.

Research supervision
If successful, you will conduct your research under the supervision of:

Dr. Anders Drachen, Professor (Game Analytics), The Digital Creativity Labs and the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligence Games and Game Intelligence.
Tim Ward, Head of Analytics at Square Enix West (based in London).
Dr. Sam Devlin, Research Fellow / Lecturer (AI/Machine Learning for games), The Digital Creativity Labs and the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligence Games and Game Intelligence.

You will be based full-time with the Core Analytics Team at Square Enix West (SQEX West) in London, UK, and also be affiliated with the Digital Creativity Labs (DC Labs), the largest games research initiative in the world and a Digital Economy Hub of the UK. Furthermore, you will form part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligence Games and Games Intelligence (IGGI), the largest PhD training programme for technical games research in the world.

At Square Enix West, you will form part of a large and internationally leading team. Square Enix West’s Analytics department is based in London, use multiple data sources to provide insight into user behaviour in our games and supporting services. This helps ensure we can use evidence in our decision making to deliver successful games and provide unforgettable experiences to our fans. The London Analytics team currently has nine analyst positions from intern through to leadership roles. The team supports games from Square Enix External Studios based in London and core activities across all games in SQEX West.

With the DC Labs, you will form part of an internationally leading team that specialize in game analytics, AI, esports, design and business intelligence. The team has a world-leading track record in industrial-academic research, and have been very successful at delivering research results into commercial games. The team includes 23 permanent members of academic staff and 10 post-doctoral research associates within the Digital Creativity Labs, and currently 34 PhD students in the closely linked centre for doctoral training. The team is highly supportive and encourages cross-project collaboration, especially on joint publications and developing new research projects.

Funding requirements
To be considered for this funding you must:

• Meet the entrance requirements for a PhD in Computer Science (At least a UK Upper Second Class Honours degree or the
International Equivalent) (if in doubt please contact Application Enquiries using the details provided at the end of this text).
• Be eligible to pay home/EU fees and be able to meet the EPSRC requirements:*

* EU applicants who do not meet the EPSRC residency requirements can apply to be considered for a fees only award, which would mean losing the living stipend but keeping the Square Enix provided stipend and all other support.

For complete list of essential / desirable knowledge and skills see

Funding Notes

Students receive funding for a full EPSRC studentship for up to four years - funding is available for a minimum of 3 years and up to a maximum of 4 years, depending on submission of the Thesis. Funding will cover fees at home/EU rates plus total annual stipend of £30,553 (ie £14,553 RCUK rate for 2017/18 + Additional top-up £16,000 per year from Square Enix). To be considered for this studentship, applicants must be eligible to pay home/EU fees and be able to meet the EPSRC requirements:


Apply for this studentship
1. Apply to study
You must apply online for a full-time PhD in Computer Science at:

You will need to include an academic transcript, a CV, and a personal statement. There is no need to write a full formal research proposal in your application to study as this studentship is for a specific project. Details on CV requirements etc. are in the online portal.

You must quote the project title (“EPSRC NPIF Studentship Square Enix”) in your application.

2. Provide a personal statement
As part of your application please provide a personal statement of 500-1,000 words with your initial thoughts on the research topic and its context within industrial Game Analytics.

How good is research at University of York in Computer Science and Informatics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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