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Northeastern University introduces game analytics graduate program

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Boston-based Northeastern University recently launched a graduate-level game design program with a game analytics track, the school announced this week.

The new program is designed to meet the growing demand for experts in the nascent field, according to Northeastern University professors and administrators.

"Ana­lytics has spread through the game industry like wildfire and has profoundly affected game development at the global scale," said Anders Drachen, an associate professor in Northeastern's College of Arts, Media and Design and lead analyst at the firm Game Analytics.

Drachen co-edited a newly published book about the field, Game Analytics: Maximizing the Value of Player Data, with two Northeastern colleagues: Magy Seif El-​​Nasr, asso­ciate pro­fessor and director of the university's game design program, and Alessandro Canossa, asso­ciate pro­fessor of game design.

According to the editors, analytics are being used by a wide variety of participants in the game industry: major publishers, developers, analysts and even players. Companies gather tons of data on the habits of players and use that feedback to shape games, while players learn about themselves and compare their behavior with friends.

"Ulti­mately, you will want to look beyond game­play behavior and get con­tex­tual data about your players. This will allow you to get closer to the users and under­stand them better," said Seif El-​​Nasr. "This helps not only in enter­tain­ment games, but pro­vides a pow­erful tool for games that have a serious pur­pose, such as those for learning, health or raising awareness."