Lennart Nacke

Director of the HCI Games Group

Professor Nacke teaches User Experience, Human-Computer Interaction, and Game Design at the University of Waterloo. As part of the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, the Department of Communication Arts, and the Games Institute, he is researching player experience in video games, immersive VR environments, and gameful applications. As a truly interdisciplinary researcher, he is cross-appointed and supervises graduate students in the Department of Systems Design Engineering, the Department of English Language and Literature, and the Cheriton School of Computer Science. Together with co-researchers, he published the PXI — player experience inventory, gamification user types hexad scale, guidelines for biofeedback and sound design in games, and a book on games user research. Professor Nacke has served on the steering committee of the International Game Developers Association Games Research & User Experience Special Interest Group in the past, was the chair of the CHI PLAY conference steering committee from 2014–2018. His publications have won Best Paper Awards at the CHI, CSCW, and CHI PLAY conferences. He has published more than 100 scientific papers, which have been cited more than 10,000 times. He strongly believes in understanding users first to build more engaging games and compelling player experiences.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Gustavo Fortes Tondello

Ph.D. Researcher, Personalization of Gameful Interactive Systems

Dr. Gustavo Tondello is currently an instructional support coordinator for the Cheriton School of Computer Science. He was a Ph.D. student at the University of Waterloo under supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke and Dr. Daniel Vogel and graduate researcher at the HCI Games Group. He is research lead of the International Gamification Federation and co-founder of MotiviUX. His research interests include gamification and games for health, wellbeing, and learning, user experience in gamification, and gameful design methods. His work focuses on the design and personalization of gameful applications. His recent publications advanced the current knowledge on player and user motivations in games and gameful applications and introduced new frameworks and approaches to designing personalized gameful applications and serious games. He periodically blogs about gamification for the HCI Games Group and on his personal blog, Gameful Bits. Before coming to Canada, Gustavo earned his M.Sc. in Computer Science and his B.Sc. in Information Systems from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and worked for several years as a Software Engineer in Brazil. Gustavo is also a Logosophy researcher affiliated to the Logosophical Foundation of Brazil and North America.

Katja Rogers

Postdoctoral Researcher, Game Audio and VR Experiences

Dr. Katja Rogers is a graduate from the Computer Science PhD program of the Institute of Media Informatics at Ulm University, Germany. In her graduate studies, she was a visiting scholar with the St Andrews Computer-Human Interaction (SACHI) research group in Scotland, spent a semester abroad at the National Taiwan University, and undertook two research visits with the HCI Games Group in Waterloo. As a postdoctoral researcher within Dr. Lennart Nacke's research group, her research interests and current projects at the HCI Games Group focus on effects of audio on player experience, embodied interaction in mixed reality, how games and digital technologies can improve wellbeing, and fidelity / realism in virtual reality.

Graduate Students

Andrew Cen

Master's Student, Game Design Research

Andrew is a user experience designer and researcher within the HCI Games Group lab. He is currently completing his graduate studies within the faculty of System Design Engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke. Andrew’s primary research area focuses on Human computer interactions (HCI), user experience (UX), and gamification. His current thesis examines a user’s experience of immersion and enjoyability across controllers of different fidelities. He is also researching financial literacy through applied gamification. In his spare time he designs for hackathons and various side projects that explore health and big tech.

Joseph Tu

Master's Student, Game Design Research, Emotion in Games

Joseph is a Master’s student pursuing a M.A.Sc in Systems Design Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke at the University of Waterloo. He is currently working on an escape room board-game that uses physiological measures as a game mechanic. He enjoys doing photography.

Karina Arrambide

Ph.D. Student, Games User Research

Karina is a Ph.D. student pursuing a degree in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, under the supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke. She holds an MSc in Information Technology with Business and Management from the University of Sussex in the UK, and a BSc in Information Technology from the University of Monterrey in Mexico. Her main interests include understanding player's behaviors and emotions by applying diverse games user research methodologies, specifically biometrics such as electromyography and galvanic skin response. She is also interested in the research of new methodologies and technologies that can help improve player's experience.

Derrick Maruko Wang

Master's Student, Game Design Research, Player Emotions

Derrick is a MASc student in Systems Design Engineering under SWaGUR, who comes from a mixed background of Computer Science and Digital Arts. He has a BFA degree in Creative Technologies from Virginia Tech in the USA with experience as a game and VR designer and developer. Derrick's research interests mainly involve game narratives and player emotions.

Iva Randelshofer

External PhD Student, University of Salzburg/Ubisoft

Iva currently works as UX Supervisor for Ubisoft and is a UXC certified HCI professional and part-time PhD student at the University of Salzburg. She is a passionate and tireless advocate for user needs and well-designed information displays. Her main fields of expertise within UX centre around cognitive neuroscience (CNS) and envisioning information of complex interfaces.

Ekaterina Durmanova

Master’s Student, Game Design Research

Ekaterina Durmanova has always held a passion for video games and their different applications, but since coming to the University of Waterloo and pursuing a bachelor in Global Business and Digital Arts at the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business, she has gained a passion for user experience and made it her mission to make a difference through games, the stories they tell and accessibility.

Maximilian Altmeyer

Visiting Ph.D. Student, Personalization of Gameful Systems

Max is a researcher and PhD student at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the Ubiquitous Media Technology Lab (UMTL) at Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany. He holds a M.Sc in Media Informatics from Saarland University. His research focuses on using gamification elements in behavior change support systems, on factors influencing their perception and on ways to tailor them to users. During his research visit at the HCI games group, he works on a collaborative gamification project with Dr. Nacke and Dr. Tondello.

John Yoon

PhD Student

John is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of English. He holds an MA in English from the University of Waterloo and a BA in Honours English from the University of Alberta. His main research focuses on the real-time construction of narrative in sports and games. His current projects include decision making in interactive narratives and researching ways to combine knowledge translation and gamification.

Paula Palomino

PhD Student, Gamification in Education

Paula is a Brazilian PhD student in Computer Science at the University of São Paulo (USP), under Dr Seiji Isotani's supervision and Dr Lennart Nacke's co-supervision. She holds an MSc and BSc in Communication from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar). Her main interests are game design, gamification, UX and digital culture and she researches the use of subjective game elements in gamification frameworks applied to educational contexts.

Ahmed Hosny Saleh Metwally

PhD Candidate, Gamification in Education

Ahmed is currently a PhD candidate at Northeast Normal University, assistant lecturer at Helwan University, and a visiting researcher at the HCI Games Group. He holds an MSc and BSc in educational technology from Helwan University. His research interests include gamifying learning assignments and educational resources. As part of his research, he investigates different features of gameful design and approaches that might help for better understanding perceived experience. Moreover, he participated and published international studies in acknowledged and prestigious international conferences e.g. GamiFin, CSEDU, IEEE ICALT, eLmL, EITT.

Enrica Loria

Visiting PhD Student, Adaptive Gameplay for Gameful Systems

Enrica is a Ph.D. student at the University of Trento and Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), Italy. She holds an MSc and a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Salerno, Italy. Her interests lie in Games Analytics, Games User Research, and Social Network Analysis, both in games and gamification. Her research goal is to study and improve players' experiences and social dynamics using data-driven approaches by delivering personalized and adaptive gameplay. During her research visit at the HCI games group, she will investigate how to profile and connect players in gameful systems.

Mel Edens

Master’s Student, Game Design Research

Mel Edens is a software developer that got her bachelors from the University of Waterloo, who worked in both small start-up and large organization for few years. She is currently pursuing her graduate studies with the faculty of System Design Engineering, under the supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke. She is working with financial corporations to develop gamification models. She believes that expertise has no value to a customer who doesn’t understand it, and gamification is the best way to simplify complicated concepts so that those with less knowledge can understand them. They can then make better decisions based on that understanding.

Alessandra Luz

PhD Student

Alessandra is a P.h.D. student in the Cheriton School of Computer Science under the supervision of Dr Lennart Nacke and Dr Daniel Vogel. She holds a MSc in HCI-E from University College of London, where her supervisors were Dr. Nicolai Marquardt and Dr. Steven Houben. Alessandra has worked in industry for tech companies such as Google, Userzoom, DAZN, Shopify and Samsung R&D. Alessandra's main research interests are related to gamification and health. She's especially interested in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases in children, and aims to create systems that will aid doctors and parents whilst also advocating for children who cannot do so for themselves. She is also interested in accessibility and believes that technology and gaming can create an environment of inclusivity and positive experiences for all.

Triskal deHaven

PhD Student

Triskal is pursuing a PhD in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, under the supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke. He holds an MSc in Human Centered Interactive Technologies from the University of York in the UK, and a BSc in Pre-graduate Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University in TN, USA. He is also a User Experience Research for the AbleGamers Charity. His main interests include making games more accessible for player with disabilities, virtual reality, and Games User Research. He is also interested in branching the gap between academia and the industry through networking efforts. He can be reached at LinkedIn or Twitter.

Undergraduate Students

Gabi Woodside

Undergraduate Research Assistant Co-Op

Gabi is a third-year Honours Arts Psychology student at the University of Waterloo. She is excited to do a co-op at the HCI Games Group Lab and learn more about user experience, video game design and the emotions of players. She also is pursuing a Visual Culture minor at the University of Waterloo, as she is aiming for a career in art therapy. Therefore, she is very interested in understanding how creativity, design and leisure activities can be used to allow for self-expression and how they can affect people's emotions. She is very excited to learn more about how the digital world of video games could relate to these interests, and to expand her knowledge of technology, game design, programming, user experience, and physiological measures of psychology.

Ally Suarez

Undergraduate Research Assistant Co-Op

Ally is a second-year Health Studies student at the University of Waterloo. She developed an interest in human-computer interaction after taking a Human-Computer Systems seminar course and volunteering at the HCI+Health Lab. She is interested in the implementation of technologies in healthcare, particularly in research topics involving mental health and gerontology. During her work term, she hopes to expand her knowledge about gamification and research methodologies. Ally also has a passion for photography and videography.

Arnold Dian Abistado Jr.

Undergraduate Research Assistant

AJ is a second-year Health Studies student at the University of Waterloo and has always loved video games. Ever since he learned about human-computer interaction, he has been interested in learning more about how technology and video games can play a part in bettering the physical and mental health of different populations. He is very excited to learn more about how games can be used to reduce stigma around mental health as he volunteers at the HCI Games Group and the Games Institute.

Alice Peng

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alice Peng is a third year Game Design student at Sheridan College. She has a little bit of a background in Mathematics from Waterloo so she enjoys combining her interests in both technology and art in the form of games. She loves exploring new ways to implement game concepts to improve traditional processes and she is looking forward to learning more about using gameful design in innovative ways and helping out wherever she can. Since this is her first time working in a research environment, the insights she gains will be extremely valuable for when she hopefully undertakes her own post grad.

Atharv Vohra

External Undergraduate Research Assistant

Atharv is a fourth year computing science student at the University of Alberta with a love for play and design. He's been making games since high school and has let his curiosity lead him towards the world of HCI. Atharv's interests lie at the intersection of games, learning, emerging technologies, and development processes. He's excited about the future of games and hopes to delve deep into the world of UX at the HCI Games Group.

Fancheng Sun

Undergraduate Research Assistant Co-op

Fancheng is currently a 3B science student. Though his major is not related to game and psychology, he has a great passion in games. He loves role playing games and storytelling heavy games. As a volunteer, he is working with Derrick now on his project on the emotional arcs resulting from game narratives and stories. He has worked in a lab environment and hopes he can help with the literature review and other report writing process. He has finished some CS classes in Waterloo, so he is hoping to learn game related programming as well.


AC Atienza
Undergraduate Researcher, Game Design
Albert "Eddie" Shearer
Lab Man of Mystery
Albert Bushara
Undergraduate Research Assistant, Summer 2012
Alberto Mora
Visiting Ph.D. Student, Gamification Elements
Alvin Lee
Undergraduate Researcher, Game Development
Amanda Leo
Lab Assistant
Anda Chitescu
Undergraduate Researcher
Arda Kizilcay
Undergraduate Researcher, Resident Game Designer
Basim Sahaf
Undergraduate Researcher, Unity Development
Brandon Hope
Web Wizard, Database Director, and Code Wrangler
Brian Freiter
Undergraduate Researcher, Game Design
Colin Whaley
Undergraduate Researcher, Biomedical Sciences, Older Adults and Technology
Daniel Stepchenko
Capstone Project: Magic Sensor Game
Dennis Kappen
Ph.D. Graduate, Game Design and User Interaction for Older Adults
Dominic Elm
Visiting Master's Student
Elisa Mekler
Post Doctoral Fellow
Ethan Li
Undergraduate Researcher, Unity Development
Giovanni Ribeiro
Master's Student, Games User Research
Henk-Jan de Groot
Lab Intern, Server Magician, and Specialist of Nontraditional Time Zones
James Robb
Master’s Student, Player Experience
Jasper van Vught
External Ph.D. Student at University of Waikato, Videogame Classification
Jennie Heo
Master's Student and UX Researcher
João Costa
Ph.D. Student, Novel Game Interaction Technologies and Immersive Game Design
John Gregory
Capstone Project: Magic Sensor Game
Jose Rodriguez
Master's Student
Julia Brich
Visiting Ph.D. Student, Game Development for Human Emotions
Kai Bornemann
Visiting Master's Student, Unity Development
Katta Spiel
Visiting Researcher, Participatory Design and Experience
Kenny Fung
Master's Student, Unity and Angular Development
Lina Marmol
Health Worker
Lisa Freiman Cormier
Master's Student and UX Researcher
Lukas Schabler
Visiting Master's Student, Unity Development
Mackenzie Derival
Undergraduate Researcher
Mahir Hoque
Undergraduate Researcher, UX Design
Mareike Gabele
Visiting Ph.D. Student, Interaction Design, Motivation and Rehabilitation.
Maria Aufheimer
Visiting Graduate Student, NPCs and 3D Modeling
Marim Ganaba
Master's Student and UX Researcher
Matthias Klauser
Ph.D. Student, Winter 2012
Melissa Stocco
Undergraduate Researcher
Michelle Alkema (Poon)
UX Researcher, Language Learning Games
Mike Schäkermann
Master's Student
Mirza Beig
Web and Social Media Content Developer
Mitchell Loewen
Undergraduate Researcher, Psychology
Monika Brumar
Web Developer
Naeem Moosajee
Master's Student in Games User Research, Digital Wizard
Pedro Nogueira
External Ph.D. Student at University of Porto, Portugal
Pejman Mirza-Babaei
Affiliated Faculty
Raphaël Marczak
External Ph.D. Student at University of Waikato, Signal Processing to Support Player Experience Assessment
Rina Wehbe
Ph.D. Student, Errors, Perception of AI, Health Games
Rita Orji
Post Doctoral Fellow, Persuasive Games
Ruth Castillo
Visiting Ph.D. Student, Educational Games
Rylan Koroluk
Undergraduate Researcher
Samantha Stahlke
Lab Assistant, Charlatan of Doom, Official Comma Wrangler of the HCI Games Group
Sedona Parnham
Lab Artist
Shadi Davarian
Master's Student
Sultan Alharthi
Visiting Ph.D Student, Planning Interfaces
Warren Kong
Master's Student and UX Researcher
Ruo Yu (Joyce) Liu
Software Developer and Data Analyst
Stuart Hallifax
Visiting Ph.D. Student, Adaptive Gamification of Teaching