Nicole Lazzaro

Nicole  Lazzaro headshot

Nicole Lazzaro, Founder and President of XEODesign, Inc., has twenty years of expertise in Player Experience Design (PXD) for mass-market entertainment products. Voted by Gamasutra as one of theTop 20 women working in video games, and cited by Wired, Fast Company, CNET, ABC News, The Hollywood Reporter, and Red Herring, her clients include Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Sega, PlayFirst, The Cartoon Network, Disney, Lucas Arts, Nickelodeon, LeapFrog, Mattel, Monolith, Xfire, D.I.C.E, Leap Frog, Ugobe, The Learning Company, Broderbund, Roxio, Cisco, Go Pets, Sierra Online, and Maxis. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Stanford University where she also studied film making and computer programming.

Since founding XEODesign in 1992 Nicole’s design and research has improved over 40 million player experiences, including several popular franchises for casual audiences such as three of the Myst Series, Diner Dash, GoPets, Cosmopolitan Virtual Makeover, 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. Through this research which she published in 2004 she discovered that people’s favorite player experiences (PX) craft emotion by offering choices in 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. XEODesign’s PX model on emotion and games called the 4 Fun Keys inspires a wide range of creative approaches for crafting more emotions from play. With the 4 Fun Keys developers access player’s emotional response to innovate early in the development cycle where there is much less risk.

More on Nicole’s research can be found in her chapter in The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook, 2nd Edition by Jacko and Sears. It is now available on Amazon.

Free white papers on emotion and games are here:

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