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.

Graduate Students

Andrew Cen

Master's Student, Game Design Research

Andrew is a Systems Design Engineering student under SWaGUR, who graduated from Speech Communication with a minor in Digital Arts Communication. He joined the HCI Games Group because of his passion for game design and interest in Games User Research. Andrew is an emerging digital media designer. His primary focuses in digital design revolve around photography and videography. Andrew also has experience in the Adobe suites, including: Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom. He also has taken an interest in game development and game design, having played many games in his past time. His current focus is to expand his digital media portfolio and create inspirational work that will motivate those around him. His work can be viewed on Facebook at Jintoki Media.

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.

Katja Rogers

Visiting Ph.D. Student, Audio and VR games

Katja Rogers is a Computer Science PhD student from the Institute of Media Informatics at Ulm University, Germany. As a visiting researcher within Dr. Lennart Nacke's research group, her current project at the HCI Games Group focuses on the effects of audio on player experience in a VR horror game. Her previous projects involved topics such as NPC design, evolutionary algorithms, persuasive and pervasive games, as well as augmented reality.

Kenny Fung

Master's Student, Unity and Angular Development

Kenny is a recent MBA graduate at Wilfrid Laurier University and has a B.A. Honours Psychology from the University of Waterloo. He is currently interested in the field of computer science and is actively contributing to various projects at the HCI Games Group.

Derrick Maruko Wang

Master's Student

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. As both a game designer/developer and a hardcore player, his research interests mainly involves seeking a balance between player satisfaction and designer/developer workloads.

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.

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.

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.

Ekaterina Durmanova

Undergraduate Research Assistant

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.

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.


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
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