IronViz Edition: Tips from the Team

October 13, 2022

Someone said GAMES?!

Team GNV is extremely thrilled that the Iron Viz theme this year is GAMES! There's 2-3 weeks left for the submission date and if you have not started yet, fret not as we are here to help you out! As with any data visualization project, there's three components you will need to tackle to make it over the finish line, and those are:

  • Data - Where the numbers come from?
  • Story - What is the takeaway message for your audience?
  • Design - The aesthetics and eye-catching pieces
Win or Learn, you can't lose! - Iron Viz

Why you should try Iron Viz

Check out Sarah Bartlett's "Reasons to Enter Iron Viz" if you are still sitting on the fence on this. But whether you have been using Tableau for years or just getting started in the community, there's so much to learn from everyone in this exciting annual event that gathers the greatest minds of data visualization! You can also check out this page on past Iron Viz submissions - a word of caution though, once you start you can't stop! ;) If that's not enough, check out the interviews from first-time participants (back in 2021) CJ Mayes, Ryan Soares and Anne-Sophie Pereira De Sa on their experience over here!

How do I get started?

Here are a couple of resources to get you started on what to expect from Iron Viz:

Get the inside scoop on judging criteria or tips on how to manage your time for the Iron Viz qualifiers. Past finalists, judges, and participants will share their experiences and insight.

Will Sutton's 7-part series on Conquering the Iron Viz

Workbook thumbnail

Check out this #VizOfTheDay by Thiago Lima to learn about the key theories behind good data visualization practices


Managing your time effectively for IronViz by Tableau

Don't have data? fret not and check out the 💾 #GamesNightViz Data Archives 💾 to get started

Inspiration from the #GamesNightViz submissions

If you are haven't got a clue how to start, why not check out these vizzes on good design, storytelling and analysis - all of which are judging criterion for Iron Viz.

Ant Pulley - Top 50 Game Characters

Josh Preston - 50 Video Game Icons #GamesNightViz

Kelly Gilbert - Board Game Simulation: Hold on to Your Cats!

Louis Yu - Welcome to the Pixel World

Will Sutton - Interpreting Art | Iron Viz 2022 | Drawful 2

Will Champ Brown - Outliers

Joti Gautam - Cracking the Rubik's Cube

Jason Knudson - Evolution of Sonic The Hedgehog

Parting wisdom from the team

1. Find your passion
  • Dig into your memories and pick out a game or topic you either know a lot about (than the average joe) or feel strongly about. This will help to fuel your motivation and definitely be oozing out of every narrative you put into your final product.

2. Start with the "End"
  • After you have identified the topic, think about the takeaway message or question for your audience. What is the most interesting story you want to showcase - is it how this particular game has soared through all industry expectations, or how different it is from other games, or even how popular it is? When you have that piece, you can work backwards to gather the data to either prove or refute your point. And if it's not interesting enough, you can always go back to step 1.

3. Add context to enhance your story
  • We often stress about gathering possible data points before starting on the project but we say "Don't go down that rabbit hole". Look for data that complements your story; everything else is a need to know basis.

4. Don't be afraid of getting your hands dirty
  • The ugly truth of the world of data visualization is that there's never a PERFECT dataset, so don't be afraid to create your own in CSV, Text, Excel, R, Python or any other tool you are familar with. If you are familiar with web scrapping, you can easily combine data from multiple websites to make your own data. If not, there's always the good old "Copy and Paste".

5. Design last
  • Don't sweat the small stuff and obsess over the aesthetics of your viz until you have all the major pieces and your story down. That additional 30 seconds you spend on adjusting the tooltips, fonts, etc - can slowly add up and eat into valuable time that could be used to refine your entire narrative. Leave those at the very end because chances are, you are definitely gonna be tweaking all the way thru the last moment.

Louis Yu

Hi, Louis here! Have been working in various industries in the past decade but finally found my way into the video game industry as a Senior Data Analyst, driving customer insights and building dashboards for 2K Games. I always enjoy a good game with an immersive narrative, which probably explains why I am passionate about bespoke designs and the storytelling potential of data vizzes!

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