Nicole Lazzaro

San Francisco, California, US

CEO XEODesign, Inc. I help people make technology and games fun to unlock human potential through play.

About Nicole

Nicole Lazzaro, the founder (in 1992) and President of XEODesign, Inc., has twenty years expertise in Player Experience Design (PXD) for mass-market entertainment products. Widely recognized as one of the top women working in video games and a pioneering, leading figure in mobile and social games, Fast Company considers Nicole one of the 100 most influential women in high tech, and Gamasutra voted her one of the Top 20 women working in video games. Nicole has spoken at the US State Department, and has been cited by Wired, Fast Company, ABC News, CNN, CNET, The Hollywood Reporter, and Red Herring. She has improved over 100 million player experiences and has worked with EA, Ubisoft, D.I.C.E., Lucas Arts, Disney, PlayFirst, The Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon on such popular franchises as three of the Myst series, Diner Dash, Fusion Fall, 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 and has done ground breaking research on the relationship of emotion to games:

Published in 2004 her research discovered that people’s favorite player experiences (PX) generate strong emotions to create engagement. Called the Four Keys to Fun, Nicole found that best selling games offer at least three of 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. The Four Keys to Fun framework for how games create engagement with emotion has inspired hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide to craft more emotions from play including world famous authors such as Raph Koster, Jesse Schell, Tom Chatfield, and Jane McGonigal. With the Four Keys to Fun developers access player's emotional response to innovate early in the development cycle where there is much less risk.

Work Experience


XEOPlay, Inc.

March 2010 - December 2016