A data-driven approach for video game playability analysis based on players’ reviews

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Playability is a key concept in game studies defining the overall quality of video games. Although its definition and frameworks are widely studied, methods to analyze and evaluate the playability of video games are still limited. Using heuristics for playability evaluation has long been the mainstream with its usefulness in detecting playability issues during game development well acknowledged. However, such a method falls short in evaluating the overall playability of video games as published software products and understanding the genuine needs of players. Thus, this paper proposes an approach to analyze the playability of video games by mining a large number of players’ opinions from their reviews. Guided by the game-as-system definition of playability, the approach is a data mining pipeline where sentiment analysis, binary classification, multi-label text classification, and topic modeling are sequentially performed. We also conducted a case study on a particular video game product with its 99,993 player reviews on the Steam platform. The results show that such a review-data-driven method can effectively evaluate the perceived quality of video games and enumerate their merits and defects in terms of playability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
JournalInformation (Switzerland)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Playability
  • Player reviews
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Steam
  • Text classification
  • Topic modeling

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 0

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems


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