Opportunities to Work With us

Banner saying Work with us at the HCI Games Group

The HCI Games Group is a human-computer interaction and games research lab situated in the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo. The lab is headed by Professor Nacke, who is jointly appointed with the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business and the Department of Communication Arts having access to some of the best technological facilities in Canada. Our researchers have interdisciplinary backgrounds and research excellence ranging across, for example, psychology, interaction design, product design, knowledge integration, speech communication, fine arts, user experience design, software engineering, computer science, business, management, and/or computer engineering.

We are always seeking the strongest candidates, who excel in any discipline that are excited about working on games and human-computer interaction research, specifically in our grant-funded research projects. We consistently receive more applications—even for volunteers—than we have funded positions available, so we have formalized the process of becoming a member of our research group (ranging from undergraduate volunteers to International Visiting Graduate Students to graduate students in Systems Design Engineering, Computer Science, or English to Postdoctoral Fellows). The usual steps to apply (specifically for undergraduate students) are:

  1. Generally, you set up a Skype interview with Professor Nacke in all cases first (after submitting the materials below and being selected to interview). You should be prepared to make a strong argument about indicators of your current research excellence in your selected area.
  2. (sometimes optional) Volunteer for us for a term if you can (usually four months) first to see how well you mesh with the group and for us to evaluate the quality of your work. In some cases, we skip this step because you are coming in with a strong recommendation from one of our members or a fellowship or external funding or we have worked with you in another capacity or you had a previous collaboration with Professor Nacke.
  3. After your first volunteer term with us, let us know if you want to continue to work with us and in what capacity and whether you are considering graduate school and would require funding. Schedule an interview with Professor Nacke to discuss this. He will let you know whether he currently has any funding available to support your position and what scholarships you are available for based on your academic standing. You will have much better chances to receive an offer if you come in with your own funding either internationally or regionally or with the highest possible grades (e.g., Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Canada CGS-M, NSERC CGS-D/Alexander Graham Bell Doctoral Scholarship, Banting Postdoc Fellowship, AMTD Postdoctoral Fellowship – the premier award for postdocs).
  4. If you come in at an Undergraduate level after volunteering for us, it is most likely that we will work with you as an NSERC-funded Undergraduate Student Research Assistant on several research projects during the spring/summer term. If you are interested in joining us for graduate school, Professor Nacke is cross-appointed and currently supervises graduate students in Computer Science, Systems Design Engineering, and English, so you would have to apply and be eligible for graduate school through any of those programs.

If you are passionate about working with us and would like to interview for a volunteer position, please follow the instructions below. Please send the following in an email to Professor Nacke:

  1. Your current transcript/grades. You have the best chances if you are in the A range (above 85%) of grades.
  2. A CV including your current main achievements, especially any publications and citations you might already have (this is essential for Ph.D. applicants and postdocs).
  3. One A4 page motivation letter that states why you want to do a Masters or Ph.D. specifically with the HCI Games Group at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
  4. A short sample of your technical writing in English (this could be from a research paper or technical course assignment) or you could create a writing sample by reviewing and summarizing key points from any past CHI paper.
  5. Two extremely strong letters of recommendation (ideally from an academic reference).
  6. (optional) To really stand out: a 2-min recorded video presentation (via YouTube/Vimeo link) of your current ongoing research interests and/or achievements and how they could relate to our work.

Follow up within 2 weeks if you have not yet received a reply about an interview yet (you can also try calling to follow up: (+1) 519-888-4567 at extension 37822 [Games Institute]. All applications are welcome, but students with a professional or academic background or course work experience in user experience design, human-computer interaction, game design, or user interface design are preferred. Excellent English technical writing skills are a definite plus. Students with some programming or scripting experience (ideally Angular and JavaScript, scripting for web) are also at an advantage, specifically for graduate school applications. However, students with a strong background in conducting studies with human participants or a strong design experience are equally preferred.


We prefer working with students on a volunteer basis first for a project (either for a term during your undergraduate studies or as a visiting researcher from a different University) to see how well the new member meshes with the existing research team. Most people currently working in our group started out as volunteers with us. To volunteer with us, please follow the 4-step instructions above.

Graduate Students and Postdocs

Once you have volunteered or interned with us, you (and we) might sometimes want to extend your research into graduate school for a long-term research relationship. The best way to do this is to apply for a scholarship. Professor Nacke guarantees full funding for all students he accepts under his supervision in graduate school. The exact amount depends on the department, but it is always at least the cost of tuition. In addition, you are guaranteed funding to attend international conferences for which you are the first author of a full research paper.