Sony PlayStation at #TCC13: improving games, banning cheaters

One of the best parts of the Tableau Customer Conference is the customer speaker sessions. They're great opportunities to hear how customers use Tableau in a variety of ways and see the challenges they face and overcome. It's also fun to see how data is used in industries you personally have an interest in--and for me, Sony PlayStation couldn't be a better fit. They use Tableau to balance attributes in games, discover cheaters, and even make the case for strategic, financial decisions.

Zane Mumford and Tyler Gaede from Sony shared quite a few dashboards, but I'll start by sharing my favorite.

It shows a lot of statistics about a game called Star Hawk, a third-person shooter game. This particular data set shows which maps are popular (far-left, two particular maps stands out) and which weapon generates the most kills (middle, in this case, the 'tank shell', which was promptly altered in the next patch).

But my favorite part about this dashboard, is that a designer made it; a designer who doesn't know how to program or code, but knows how to make great games. And with visual data like this, they can make those games even better.

Data also helps Sony PlayStation make online gaming experiences even better. Tyler shared an instance where they discovered one player who constantly defeated another. It seemed fishy and so they dug into it with the data, and using a visual of the battle map with data overlaid, they were able to confirm he was cheating. And what'd they do?

"We can ban him and feel good about it."

Sony's Tableau story somewhat follows the videogame industry itself. They've gone from being a new entrant in an established industry to a position of prominence and changing the course of videogames itself. And now, they're hosting servers so gamers can play with thousands and thousands of other players.

In the same way, their development of Tableau started with finding quick wins like supplementing weekly reports. Then it turned into convincing their BI team to use Tableau by first building visual representations of their report requirements. After that came the database administrators, who eventually realized that business users were getting so much out of the data snapshots and being empowered to make decisions.

Tyler shows off the different types of data they use at Sony PlayStation (UI, bugs, infrastructure, financials)

But one of their most powerful stories was when they prepared to make the entrance into online gaming. Sony needed an online server to connect gamers with each other, and there was debate about whether to go with an online, cloud hosting service and pay for them to run it, or to host it themselves.

Tyler showed off some dashboards that proved that it would be cheaper, in the long run, to host their own servers. That lead them to the very top of Sony and convinced everyone to do just that, and it's paid off.

"Tableau enabled us to tell that story to upper management."

There's a lot of great lessons to learn from Zane and Tyler, I don't want to spoil too much. And they'll actually be repeating it tomorrow (Wed. 9/11) at 9:45am in National Harbor 12-13. You'll get to see all of the above in action, and a ton more. I wouldn't miss it.

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