Close this search box.

DIREC TALKS: Changing the Game: How Data Science has Transformed the Games Industry

Changing the Game: How Data Science has Transformed the Games Industry

The interactive entertainment industry has grown dramatically in the past decade and is recently projected to reach 230 billion USD in global yearly revenue, making it one of the super-heavyweight sectors in entertainment. Estimates place the number of people worldwide who currently play computer games at over 4 billion.

Tracking detailed interaction behaviour from this number of people results in truly massive datasets. With the rapid growth and innovation in the sector, data has come to the forefront as a means for informing decision making. This has in turn spurred the evolution of the domain of Game Data Science – a cross-disciplinary area that merges perspectives from multiple academic domains to help the Creative Industries make sense – and use – of the rapidly growing data space. Given the constant changes in games, the people who play them and the communities that support them, data from games tend to be volatile, requiring that they be acted on rapidly.

In addition to supporting the industry, the data from video games and gamified applications has permitted Game Data Science to target a broad variety of research questions, from exploring human behaviour to developing new algorithms for real-time analytics, as well as exploring mental health and global cultural shifts.

Game Data Science has had a direct impact on the interactive entertainment industry within the past few years, as the practice of tracking and analysing the behaviour of players and processes has emerged as a key component of game development in this age of mobile platforms, increased game persistence and non-retail-based revenue models.

In this DIREC Talk, Anders Drachen will dive into Game Data Science, explaining what makes games unique and the changes in the industry that build them. A central focus of the presentation will be the user, the player, who is alfa and omega for the success of games, whether they are intended for entertainment or educational purposes.

Drachen will also cover:

  • the brief but turbulent history of data science applied in games.
  • the current state of the art in the sector.
  • the fundamental approaches toward problem-solving and the knowledge discovery process inherent in the domain.
  • examples of how Game Data Science operates in practice. The Innovate UK Demonstrator Project Weavr will be presented, which has delivered ground-breaking new data-driven visualisations to esports stakeholders.

Key takeaways from this DIREC Talk

  • An overview of the role of data science in the games industry
  • Some of the cross-disciplinary challenges and opportunities that have emerged in this fast-evolving area

Anders Drachen



Anders Drachen

Anders Drachen, PhD, (born 1976) is Professor and Head of the Game Development and Learning Technologies Unit at the Maersk McKinney-Moeller Institute, University of Southern Denmark, as well as Lead Analyst for Weavr, which is building new data-driven audience experiences across esports and sports and Co-Director for the Arena Research Cluster, an international research network focused on innovation in esports and sports. He is also affiliated with various universities, committees, and networks, e.g. the Digital Creativity Labs (former co-director), a UK Digital Economy Hub and World Centre for Excellence, which connects 100+ partners in delivering impact-driven research in games, interactive media and the rich space in which they converge at the University of York (UK), the Turing Institute data visualisation SIG, the IGGI Centre for Doctoral Training, and is adjunct faculty at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

He is recognized as one of the world’s most influential people in business intelligence in the Creative Industries, and a core innovator in the domain with 170+ publications across game analytics and games user research. His work has assisted major international game publishers, as well as SMEs, make better decisions based on their data, and led to the introduction of new value-generating practices across more than a dozen major game companies. As an interdisciplinary, veteran data scientist, his work has reached across user behaviour, user experience, business intelligence, big data, machine learning, information systems, human-computer interaction, digital business transformation, data visualisation, audience interaction, design, psychology, health, supply chains and blockchain.   He is editor/author of three field-defining books in the Creative Industries domain: Game Analytics – Maximizing the Value of Player Data, which has seen over 200,000 downloads, Games User Research, a standard work of reference in the games industry, and Game Data Science.  

His research has been covered by international print and online media worldwide. Major national print and online news outlets such as Wired, New York Post and Forbes have covered his research which has attained global attention on multiple occasions. His research work has received five best paper awards and two honourable mentions at major conferences including the Eleventh Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE) in 2015 and the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in 2019.

He was part of the team behind the International Game Development Association’s Special Interest Group on Games Research and User Experience, which today counts over 3100 members worldwide. He is a member of the board of the International Game Development Association’s Special Interest Group on Game Analytics. He is a member of Turing Institute Special Interest Group on Data Visualisation and the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing in the United Kingdom. He is a member of multiple other international special interest groups and committees.

He has organized several international conferences and workshops and served on dozens of conference committees. He collaborates with international networks of colleagues in academia and industry and works with students worldwide on research projects. He is a strong proponent of work-integrated learning and an active partner for the Creative Industries in matchmaking students for internships and careers.

Having lived and worked on four different continents, Anders Drachen has had the mixed pleasure of fending off three shark attacks in Africa and Australia. He is also the youngest Dane in history to publish a cooking book – dedicated to ice cream. In his spare time, he writes books for children about technology and economics (www.aequipectenpublishing.com).

Afholdte arrangementer

Young Researcher Entrepreneurship Academy

PhD summer school

Young Researcher Entrepreneurship Academy

Join the Young Researcher Entrepreneurship Academy (YREA) PhD summer school to grow your entrepreneurial mindset and learn how that can benefit both your current research and future career. 

The course specifically leverages AI, data science, and computer science in the service of societal and environmental challenges in for instance health-tech, green-tech, manufacturing, and business. The aim is to build entrepreneurial capacity and to increase the establishment of university-based startups.

YREA is for you if you are interested in:

  • Insights into ideation, ML Ops, entrepreneurial mindset, testing business ideas, negotiation, etc.
  • Knowing how to create a balanced, flexible career in the intersection of entrepreneurship and academia.
  • Meeting inspiring, like-minded individuals while engaging in active learning approaches.
  • Being invited to an optional follow-up module in fall 2022 as well as pitching event at Digital Tech Summit 2022.
  • 2.5 ETCS Points and free of charge course.
The programme

The themes for each of the three days are as follows:

Day 1: Develop your entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, and mindset.

Day 2: Learn how to turn an idea into an enterprise.

Day 3: Build your enterprise – management and negotiation skills.

The programme is co-developed by DTU, DIREC, AI Pioneer Centre, AU and CBS

  • Serge Belonge, PhD, Professor at University of Copenhagen, DIKU, and director of AI Pioneer Centre
  • Thomas Riisgaard Hansen, PhD, Director of DIREC – Digital Research Centre Denmark
  • Camilla Nørgaard Jensen, PhD, Innovation Program Leader, DTU Skylab
  • Michael Bjørnlund, Investor, ROCKSTART
  • Lars Kai Hansen, PhD, Professor, Cognitive Systems, DTU Compute
  • Julie Strandesen Hooge, Commercialisation Manager, DTU
  • Anne Stampe, Co-founder and CEO, Nordic Female Founders
  • Luna Agerholm Gyalokay, Senior Venture Builder, KRING
Target Group

The YREA programme welcomes participants of all genders, ethnicities, capabilities and religions from a computer/data related discipline, with little or no business experience from any Danish university.

Participants include PhD students, Post-doctoral researchers, Master students and Innovation officers at universities.


DIREC TALKS: How corona changed distributed work – The future challenges in hybrid work

How corona changed distributed work – The future challenges in hybrid work

The corona pandemic changed the perspective on how organizations think about the challenges in collaboration across geographical distance.


The distance framework from 2000 has been fundamental to how we think about the design and use of technology supporting cooperative work. In 2014, the framework was changed due to new technological opportunities. With corona, the challenges embedded in distributed work changed again in 2020 and now, after the pandemic, we have a situation where organizations think about how to utilize the learnings from the pandemic in the future workplace.

Professor Pernille Bjørn from University of Copenhagen will take us though the different frameworks and discuss the fundamental challenges in distributed and hybrid work before she presents potential ideas for how to move forward in an organization in terms of future work situations.




Pernille Bjørn

My main research falls into the research domain of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). CSCW is an interdisciplinary research agenda with two main aims, namely to 1) investigate the basic nature of collaborative work, with the aim of 2) designing collaborative technologies.

Since 2006, I have studied the collaborative work practices in several different domains: Software development, Healthcare, Engineering, and Education. The collective contribution of all this work has to date added to unpacking practices of routine, coordination, sorting, triage, awareness, commitment, coupling of work, knowledge sharing, and cultural difficulties. Unpacking of complexities of collaborative practices can be done in many ways, and most currently we have looked into how digital tracking technologies can facilitate architectural practices of future hospitals. The purpose of this work is to figure out how to bring these insights into the way we think, design, adapt, and embed collaborative technologies.

Most recently, my interest has moved towards more design-oriented interests especially how to utilise the potentials of digital fabrication technologies for exploratory prototyping. In particular, I am interested in exploring Maker communities and the role which Makerspaces have in facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation. More concretely, exploring how disruptive technologies e.g. Blockchain have the ability to change innovation. Current work also includes exploring the role of critical design artefacts, and the ways in which we can challenge current trends within development of digital interactive technologies.

Afholdte arrangementer

Kvantecomputing – hvad er mulighederne og vejen frem?

Kvantecomputing – hvad er mulighederne og vejen frem?

ATV, IDA og DIREC inviterer til fælles seminar om hvilke muligheder og udviklingsområder, der på nuværende tidspunkt er med kvantecomputing.

Ved tilmelding skal du oprette dig som bruger på ATV – det er gratis

Formålet med seminaret er at give deltagerne:

  • et overblik over feltets muligheder og udviklingsområder, fagligt og anvendelsesrettet
  • indsigt i de centrale forskningsmæssige arbejdsområder
  • indsigt i hvilke use cases, der er mest oplagte i forhold til kvantecomputing
  • og indsigt og drøftelse af, hvad man reelt kan i dag med kvantecomputing.

Vi byder på faglige indlæg af høj kvalitet, der afdækker forskellige sider af muligheder og udfordringer. Derudover vil vi gennemføre workshops med det formål at dele viden mellem forskellige fagområder og at skabe nye relationer mellem dygtige forskere og virksomheder, der er interesseret i at samarbejde om at løse nogle af udfordringerne relateret til kvantecomputing.

Seminaret har relevans for både forskere i digitale teknologier og virksomheder, der enten arbejder med kvanteteknologi, digitale teknologier eller har interesse i samspillet mellem kvante (fysik) og computing (IT), samt andre organisationer, der er nysgerrige på nyere, digitale teknologier.


10.30: Velkomst v. Thomas Risgaard Hansen, direktør, DIREC

10.40: Kvantecomputer udvikling: En opdatering fra frontlinjerne v. Adjunkt Morten Kjærgaard, Niels Bohr Instituttet, KU

I dette oplæg vil Morten fortælle om frontlinjerne i udvikling af kvantecomputer hardware. Ved at erstatte transistorer i en klassisk computer med kvantemekaniske systemer kan man åbne for radikalt anderledes beregningsmetoder, og dermed løse visse problemer, som er praktisk talt umulige, selv på de gigantiske supercomputere, vi har i dag. En af de ledende hardwareplatforme til kvantecomputere er de såkaldte ’superledende kvantebits’, som er brugt af bl.a. Google og IBM. Morten vil fortælle om, hvor frontlinjeforskning lige nu ligger indenfor udvikling af denne platform, hvor langt vi er, hvad de største problemer er, samt fortælle om kvantefejlretning — et centralt element i fremtidige store kvantecomputere.

11:00: Kvantesoftware v. Professor Matthias Christandl, Institut for Matematiske Fag, KU

Hver eneste dag bruger vi computere, bærbare, tablets og mobiltelefoner. De består af den hardware, fx processorer, hukommelse og skærme, som vi holder i vores hånd, men de består også af software, som styrer dem, fx Windows, iOS, Word, Excel, Zoom eller Teams. Med kvantecomputeren bliver en helt ny type computer til virkelighed. Dens styrke ligger i, at den ikke – som en konventionel computer – bliver styret af bits, der kun kan være 0 eller 1. Kvantecomputeren bliver styret af kvantebits, som kan være 0 *og* 1 på samme tid. Det kræver selvfølgelig en ny type hardware: kvantehardware. Men det kræver også en ny type software, nemlig kvantesoftware, som kan udnytte kræfterne og fordelene som ligger i kvanteteknologien. I oplægget vil Matthias Christandl introducere kvanteversionen af den berømte Turing-maskine og diskutere kompleksitet af kvantealgoritmer. Christandl vil illustrere dette fascinerende forskningsfelt ved at logge på en kvantecomputer i USA og køre vores kvantesoftware “live” på denne kvantehardware.

11:20: Workshop: Hvad er de forsknings- og udviklingsmæssige udfordringer og muligheder, vi skal have løst, hvis vi skal kvantecomputeren til at fungere? Faciliteres af Ulrik Busk Hoff

12:00: Frokost og netværk

12:30: Ud af laboratoriet og ind i virksomhederne – kvantecomputere i den virkelige verden v. Professor Nikolaj Thomas Zinner, Institut for Fysik og Astronomi, AU, Kvantify

Udviklingen af kvantecomputere går stærkt i disse år efter at store kommercielle firmaer har kastet sig ind i kampen om at bygge det første stor-skala system til alment brug. Imidlertid vil det være meget specialiserede systemer vi forventer at se først, og det er afgørende at udvikle algoritmer og software, som har slutbrugere i forskellige industrielle sektorer for øje. Nicolai Zinner vil i dette oplæg drøfte nogle eksempler på problemstillinger, hvor kvantecomputeren vil have en fordel både den på korte og den lange bane.

12:55: Tilgængelige platforme samt hvad man kan med kvantecomputere i dag v. Partner Bent Dalager, Nordic Head of NewTech, KPMG

Bent Dalager holder oplæg om anvendelsen af kvantecomputing i praksis lige nu. Han giver nogle case-eksempler og tale om nogle af de quantum computing-platforme, som kan bruges (IBM, Microsoft, AWS).

13:20: Kort pause med forfriskninger

13:30: Kvantecomputeren i praksis – demonstration og afprøvning Faciliteret workshop med ph.d.-studerende Stig Elkjær Rasmussen, Institut for Fysisk og Astronomi, AU og ph.d.-studerende Vincent Steffan fra Institut for Matematiske Fag, KU

Deltagerne vil få vist, hvordan man tilgår og programmerer på en fungerende kvantecomputer. Der kræves ingen forudgående viden om kvantemekanik, dog forventes deltagerne at have kendskab til grundlæggende lineær algebra, og man bedes medbringe egen bærbar computer. Efter deltagelse på workshoppen får man førstehåndserfaring med at kode på en kvantecomputer.

14:00: Minipaneldebat: Anvendelser på kort og lang sigt, og hvad skal der til? Faciliteres af Ulrich Busk Hoff


  • Matthias Christandl, Professor, Institut for Matematiske Fag, KU
  • Nikolaj Thomas Zinner, Professor, Institut for Fysik og Astronomi, AU, Kvantify
  • Bent Dalager, Partner, Nordic Head of NewTech, KPMG

14:55: Afslutning Akademidirektør v. Lia Leffland, ATV

15:00-17.00: Netværk og forfriskninger


Nyt millionprojekt skal udstyre maskinlæring med et sikkerhedsskjold

30 million project grant for providing a safety shield for machine learning

Professor Kim Guldstrand Larsen fra Institut for Datalogi på Aalborg Universitet modtager en Villum Investigator-bevilling på 30 mio. kr. Pengene skal gå til et nyt projekt, der skal styrke sikkerheden i såkaldt cyber-fysiske systemer som selvkørende biler og medicinsk udstyr.