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He's Got Game: There's Psychology Behind 'Halo 3'

Microsoft's Randy Pagulayan received grounding in cognition, action and performance theory as a UC PhD student.

Date: 10/2/2007
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Sian Kennedy, Wired magazine
The fastest-selling video game in history boasts true hands-on input from a McMicken College of Arts and Sciences alumnus.

Randy J. Pagulayan, who earned his PhD in psychology at UC, is a user researcher lead for Microsoft Game Studios (MGS). He's also in the news as the manager of a user research team for Bungie Studios, creators of Microsoft's wildly successful Halo series. Halo 3, released Sept. 25, has been touted everywhere from Mountain Dew cans to print interviews, and raked in $300 million in sales in its first week.

After designers fine-tune every Halo 3 level and character, Randy Pagulayan puts them to the test in his lab.

Pagulayan was a PhD student in the University of Cincinnati's human factors training program from 1996 to 2001. His dissertation chair was Thomas Stoffregen.

"Many of our human factors students aim for industrial research careers. Sometimes they rebel at the theoretical nature of the work we expect from them in our program," says Steve Howe, Department of Psychology head.

"When we had Randy here to do a colloquium with us last year, he discussed this point, and explained how his success as a human factors engineer at Microsoft is grounded in the theoretical frameworks he was exposed to here at UC, and the advantages that his grounding in cognition, action and performance theory have conferred upon him relative to some of his industrial peers."

For a behind-the-scenes look at Pagulayan's work, see a feature in Wired magazine. Pagulayan also is featured in a recent NPR interview about Halo 3, the final installment in the Halo trilogy.


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