First Impressions from a Data Analyst
First Impressions from a Data Analyst new to the games industry
By Sophia Douglas – Data Analyst
I joined Electric Square in mid-November of 2019 as a Data Analyst. Not only is Electric Square my first job in the video game industry, but it is also my first proper data science role querying very large data sets; previously I had mostly used excel for data processing of small to mid-sized data sets.
As Electric Square is my first job in the industry, I had no expectations as to what a games company may be like. It is a much faster paced industry than my previous roles, previously I worked analysing sensitive data of low participation students at a University. Policy decisions at educational institutions are not as slow as policy decisions in government, but data analysis often evidenced actions that would be a year or two away. In the games industry, when asked for evidence with regards to a new feature, action will often occur the following week. It certainly makes an employee feel more heard and valued when you can see insights and recommendations being acted on within the same month, let alone the same year.
This may also be due, however, to Electric Square being a smaller company. Although Electric Square is in a period of growth, the size of the company is still such that it fosters a sense of family and solidarity amongst colleagues. In any case, the work culture at Electric Square really makes an employee feel important and respected, whilst motivating a member of staff to produce high quality outputs.
The social culture at Electric Square is very inclusive and welcoming. In roles I have had before, many workers (through their own volition) choose not to really socialise with their colleagues. As such, there were no formal or informal socialising occasions, except a Christmas party once a year. In contrast, Electric Square organises many excursions for its staff outside of office hours, facilitating socialisation more easily for those who do wish to engage with other colleagues without being pressuring for those who would rather keep to themselves. Furthermore, the weekly Show and Tell events not only celebrate the work of teams and individuals company wide, but also allow for different departments to mix and socialise. This not only encourages pride in work, socialisation and teambuilding within projects, but also across other projects. This allows interactions with people who you may not see day to day (especially with projects split across multiple offices).
From an analytics perspective, however, the role is as expected. Some may be wondering what it is that the analytics department does at Electric Square?
The primary responsibility of Analytics is to monitor the health and performance of our products. This is achieved by consistently tracking various metrics across time, in addition to comparing them to previously agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are calculated by looking at sector wide trends and targets. Some of these include:
• How many users are playing the games?
• Are users coming back again and again?
• Are users spending real world money in game?
• What percentage of users spend money?
The Analytics department looks at data from real users in real time, allowing us to follow player behaviour on a macroscopic level. Every interaction with the product is recorded across thousands of users, creating a huge resource for investigations into human behaviour. An analyst’s job is to interrogate the player data, and communicate the findings and conclusions efficiently to internal and external stakeholders. This often takes the format of dashboards or written reports.
Other responsibilities of the Analytics department include providing evidence to inform decisions with respect to design. This could involve experimentation, such as A/B Testing, in which samples of users are presented with new changes. The data of those in the experimental group is compared to those in a control group, who are not experiencing these differences, to see if their behaviour has changed for good or for bad, or perhaps there may be no difference at all.
Finally, the day-to-day of an analyst often requires answering ad-hoc data requests from other departments and investigating bugs, particularly those that result in player attrition.
At the time of writing, I am only two and a half months into the role. Every day presents new and interesting challenges, but everyone is patient, kind and willing to teach me. I have already learnt so much, and I am excited to support Electric Square further in the future.