Dungeon World’s Dice System Is The Core Of Good Game Design (And User Experience)

Written by AC Atienza of the HCI Games Group. Dungeon World is a tabletop game by Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel that uses an adapted version of the Powered by the Apocalypse RPG engine. Whenever a player character attempts to do a difficult task, they must roll two six-sided dice to determine the outcome: Rolls of 6 or less are considered failures. Rolls between 7 and 9 are considered “mixed successes”. Rolls of 10 or more are considered successful. In-game modifiers add an average of +1 to the final outcome of a character’s roll, assuming they’re playing to their strengths. As a result, the statistically most probable outcome for most tasks is a “mixed success”. A mixed success means slightly different things depending on the task, but most of the time, the player must make a difficult decision. Here are two examples: If a player tries sneaking past guards but rolls an 8, the Dungeon Master (DM) may tell them that they misstepped and made a conspicuous noise. “You can attack now and keep the advantage of stealth, but your teammates aren’t ready

Games as a Service – the model of Microtransactions

Games as a Service – the model of Microtransactions

  Written by Karina Arrambide of the HCI Games Group. It is no surprise that video games today offer players the opportunity to buy extra content, loot boxes, skins, DLC or expansion packs. It is common that after players buy a game at full price, they start to see messages that encourage them to buy additional content. Games as a Service (or GaaS) represent a revenue model in which video games can be monetized after they are released. Today video games do not act as a product, but as services in the form that additional content is released after the game is launched.  The reason for that is, games are now constantly patched, updated and new content is offered to the players. Different forms of this model exist, some examples include game subscriptions, gaming on demand and microtransactions. And there is a high possibility that as gamers, we have heard of the term “microtransactions”. Microtransactions are low-cost purchases that represent additional content in the game. These purchases can provide new maps, characters, items, weapons or rewards. This type of model started

Understanding Gamification Through Goal-Setting Theory

Understanding Gamification Through Goal-Setting Theory

Written by Gustavo Tondello of the HCI Games Group. Goal-setting theory has been used for decades to explain how to motivate people to perform better in work-related tasks by setting and monitoring goals. Gamification is also inherently a goal-oriented activity, aimed at fostering motivation; therefore, it is logic to expect that these two practices would fit very well together and help us design better motivational experiences. Surprisingly, very few research works so far have seriously explored the use of goal-setting theory to explain and inform gameful design, with most literature focusing more on self-determination theory as the theoretical background for gamification. Therefore, for a recent paper published at HICSS 2018, we decided to conduct a literature review and a conceptual investigation of gamification through the lens of goal-setting theory. This research had four goals: to identify the current uses of goal-setting theory in gamification research; to explain the principles and common elements of gamification within the framework of goal-setting theory; to understand how goal-setting recommendations can be implemented with gamification; and to understand how goal-setting recommendations can improve gameful design.

CHI PLAY 2017 in beautiful Amsterdam — the Venice of the North

CHI PLAY 2017 in beautiful Amsterdam — the Venice of the North

Written by Dennis Kappen of the HCI Games Group. CHI PLAY 2017 was held in Amsterdam, one of the most relaxed and serendipitous places on earth, where time and transit did wait for you to experience the grandeur of architecture, design and human connections. People were quite helpful, courteous and very eager to show you the way around. CHI PLAY as a conference has always been close to home since my first presentation at the First International Conference on Gameful Design, Research, and Applications — Gamification ’13. This conference was re-christened as CHI PLAY in 2014. Over the past five conferences, CHI PLAY 2017 was my fourth successful publication in this conference series. It was a great privilege and honour to present a chapter from my PhD dissertation at this conference attended by many distinguished scientists, researchers, designers and developers. While CHI PLAY had workshop sessions on 14th and 15th October, I decided to focus on my presentation because I was the first presenter scheduled for the Monday morning session entitled Let’s get physical. Prior to this session there was a fantastic

‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm’ Episode 1: A poignant look into a damaged teenage mind

‘Life is Strange: Before the Storm’ Episode 1: A poignant look into a damaged teenage mind

Written by Wasi Rizvi a Waterloo Computer Engineering alumnus who has been working in the Toronto tech industry since he graduated in 2015. He has been following gaming news outlets since the launch of the N64, and enjoys casually reviewing games in his spare time.   Mental health issues and the anguish they elicit is a topic seldom explored by video games. The concept of thoroughly dissecting the mind of the protagonist to reveal their deep-seated flaws is a task generally left to other mediums of fiction. 2015’s “Life is Strange”, a sleeper hit from publisher Square Enix and developer Dontnod Entertainment, is one of the first games I have played where the player character’s flaws and growth are central to the game thematically and mechanically. In the game, which is best described as an episodic graphic adventure that emphasizes player choice, our heroine Max Caulfield’s signature ability allows her to rewind time and explore the results of different dialogue choices at will. The game does a great job of overwhelming you with choice, as oftentimes no dialogue path seems to

CHI 2017 Impressions

CHI 2017 Impressions

Attending conferences to present your own work and hear about the work of others is an important part of academic life. As HCI (human-computer interaction) researchers, one of the highlights of each one of our years is attending the top conference in our field, CHI (the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems). This year, we attended CHI 2017 to present some of our own research and stay up to date with the latest findings on HCI research. Here are some of our impressions and experiences! Dr. Lennart Nacke Associate Professor and Director of the HCI Games Group Going to CHI is always inspiring and entertaining. The more often I attend the conference, the more the people in my community there feel like a family to me. I have really enjoyed the volunteering that I have done for ACM SIGCHI in the past. This year, I had the pleasure of working on the new SIGCHI website that was unveiled at the conference and organized another special interest group on games research at CHI as well as chaired the subcommittee on games. This

International exchange project with Cyprus Interaction Lab

International exchange project with Cyprus Interaction Lab

Crosspost from SWaGUR.ca. An Exchange with Europe’s Cyprus Interaction Lab Earlier this summer, SWaGUR professor Lennart Nacke visited the Cyprus Interaction Lab visited from the Cyprus University of Technology on an Erasmus exchange for teaching and training of students there and to set up a collaboration with the group to integrate the local training efforts with the SWaGUR training opportunities in Canada. Many of the researchers there are interested in new interaction techniques and learning. Learning is, of course, an essential part of game design and there is an exciting overlap to the research being done in SWaGUR. At the meeting, the researchers discussed better training opportunities for students in Canada and in Cyprus and began a collaboration. As part of the initial Erasmus exchange, the next step was to send a visitor from the Cyprus Interaction Lab to Canada. A Research Visit from Cyprus Andreas Papallas, a Research Fellow at the Cyprus Interaction Lab visited the HCI Games Group at the Games Institute of the University of Waterloo in Canada last week from the Cyprus University of Technology, and presented an overview of design research theory applied to gamification and

My Life Has Turned Into a Nintendo Commercial

My Life Has Turned Into a Nintendo Commercial

By Colin Whaley of the HCI Games Group. The Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U, despite having similar controllers and even some overlap in game libraries, are such fundamentally different experiences that I’ve bought the same game for it twice. The Switch’s launch commercial shows all manner of multiplayer experiences, including Mario Kart, with a huge focus on local multiplayer experiences; this was so enticing to me that I spent an additional $100 for Mario Kart 8 for the Switch on top of the price I paid for Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. My purchase was justified, as the two consoles provide two fundamentally different experiences, and Mario Kart 8 is a fantastic example of this distinction. Nintendo’s 2012 console, the Wii U, had some fantastic games released for it (see: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Super Mario 3D World, Splatoon, and of course Mario Kart 8 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), but the console was very much so that — a home console for which transportation to friends’ houses, parties, etc. was labourious and

The Five Gamification Languages: Gameful Experiences That Last

The Five Gamification Languages: Gameful Experiences That Last

Written by Lennart Nacke, Director of the HCI Games Group. (Read on Medium or watch the Video.) Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited to give a keynote at the GamiLearn conference about the five gamification languages in Tenerife. I took the opportunity to discuss some ideas that have been floating around in my head regarding gamification. In my work, I take a design-centric approach to gamification. I want to build experiences for people that help them improve their lives. Games or gameful design is one way of doing this. The metaphor of languages is quite powerful for talking about design approaches and I picked it up from Gary Chapman’s famous love languages book (which I was reading at the time I was preparing the talk).

Designing Keyboards for an Aging Population

Designing Keyboards for an Aging Population

Written by Colin Whaley. For most people, physically using computer peripherals is not a usability barrier — a keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard, right? However, for the elderly or those with nerve damage, both sensory and motor problems may make the use of such computer peripherals uncomfortable or even painful. At the University of Waterloo, I co-founded the enTECH Computer Club, a volunteer group that travels to retirement homes in the Waterloo Region and helps seniors learn how to use computers. The goal of enTECH is to help the residents keep in touch with their families in the digital age and to learn how to use technology for leisure. While volunteering, one of our volunteers noted that one of the residents he worked with did not want to use the computer: the resident mentioned that using the computer would be uncomfortable that day, specifically due to discomfort in her hands. Most often, residents decide not to work with us on a particular day due to tiredness — a physical reason for not doing so was surprising and an area where improvements in