SWaGUR: Saskatchewan-Waterloo Games User Research
The Saskatchewan-Waterloo Games User Research (SWaGUR) program brings together 11 researchers from 7 departments at the Universities of Waterloo and Saskatchewan with the long-term goal of training 85 HQP in GUR in an interdisciplinary environment in collaboration with our industrial partners to serve the needs of an important part of Canada's information technology sector. The team of world-leading games researchers draws upon their interdisciplinary perspectives across science, engineering, social science, and humanities to apply academic learning (courses) and experiential learning (projects) in an industrially-relevant context to train HQP in both research and professional skills. The SWaGUR CREATE initiative addresses the Human Interaction with Digital Information research topic within the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) target area. With many computing applications (advancing game technology), the proposed program will generate technologies and provide training in the deployment of technologies that change how people interact with digital information, both for entertainment games and for the rapidly growing serious games sector.
Exergetic: An innovative digital solution to individually improve physical and cognitive functions using an exergame (video game-based) training in an ecologically valid and safe setting for the geriatric population
As the Canadian partner in this consortium, the HCI Games Group will focus on foundational research and usability studies to determine users’ needs and preferences for the context of an exergame for older adults. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Lennart Nacke, a group of postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate researchers will systematically explore audiovisual, narrative, social, and accessibility-related factors in exergame design for older adults. The team already has prior expertise in human-computer interaction in game-based training, as exemplified in journal and conference publications on this topic by a number of the team’s researchers. The team also has connections to Toronto’s AbleGamers organization, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the accessibility of video games. By exploring these aspects in an exergame for cognitive and physical training, the team will develop knowledge and actionable insights for a rapidly emerging global market. Their direct contributions to the design and development of a tool to help older adults improve and recover cognitive and physical functions will potentially decrease costs of rehabilitation and will have a substantial positive effect on older adults’ health, quality of life, and wellbeing.
Mitacs: Improving User Experience and Accessibility of Online Medical Test Data via Gameful Design
In this project, we plan to study and improve the existing Best Tests section of the Clinician Portal from Alpha Laboratories. Best Tests provides metrics to clinicians that allow them to compare the effectiveness and cost of their test ordering patterns. However, the problem is that many of these comparison metrics are not easy to understand and even harder to integrate into the existing routines of doctors, nurse practitioners, and lab orderers (i.e., clinicians). This is a significant research problem, because if clinicians could alter their testing strategies based on these metrics, it would result in savings for the healthcare sector and faster results for patients. To address this design problem, we propose to improve the user experience and accessibility of the currently existing Best Tests online medical test data section using gameful design. We will iteratively improve the online experience using online prototypes and data collection from real clinicians, following a rapid iterative testing (RITE) approach alongside traditional online user studies to improve the tests’ accessibility and usability. We will work closely through a co-design approach with Alpha Laboratories to ensure the iterative implementation of our prototype design into the current online software.
Mitacs: Studying Gameful Design for Bite-Sized Information Consumption
MLD Solutions is facing the challenge of creating engagement with their online content-delivery platform Mozaik.Global that allows users to create, distribute, and sell interactive digital content. This content is created in bite-sized units, currently visualized as cards. The key problem with this new type of digital content is that the company currently does not know how to make this content engaging. To address this problem, our overarching objective is to design gameful ways of interactive digital content delivery using the Mozaik.Global platform. We ask three research questions regarding whether we can identify gameful design elements that would work in the Mozaik.Global framework, how these gameful design elements motivate users to consume or create non-game digital content, and how we could track interaction data to evaluate the effectiveness of gameful design strategies. Understanding how gameful design can be used for bite-sized information creation and consumption marks a significant research problem, because not many measures or methods exist to assess the effectiveness of such gameful applications in this specific context. Our primary deliverable in this project will be a user research report studying how gameful design elements motivate users in the context of bite-sized content. Given the current pandemic, we will study the gameful user interactions with Mozaik.Global in remote experiments using behavioural observation and interviews. The bulk of our results with be qualitative and summarized in a thematic analysis.
Science Communication for Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology
Science communication is becoming more common in interactive media such as digital games and virtual reality, replacing traditional media (written word, some video). As part of this project, we developed a gameful application to inform about a new form of vaccine delivery.
Gamified Eye Disease Diagnosis and Therapy for Young Children
We propose to develop low-cost, at-home methods to diagnose and treat oculomotor disorders in children using consumer devices and gamification methods. For sensing, we will evaluate the suitability of current eye-tracking methods available in state-of-the-art mobile phones and refine these methods or design HCI techniques to improve tracking quality for our specific applications. For user interaction, we will apply and refine established gameful design approaches to maintain child engagement. Diagnosis and therapy will focus on two disorders: convergence insufficiency and intermittent exotropia.
Mitacs: The Impact of Cultural and Economic Factors on Play and Purchase Decisions for Tabletop Games
Wiggles 3D is a company that has set its goal to create relevant, inclusive, and entertaining tabletops games that are accessible to all who may find them of interest. However, much of game research has focused on a user group’s life stage or the occasion at which a game is played, while not so much on cultural aspects, such as players’ ethnicity or the cultural context of their lifestyle. This lack of understanding of the impact of cultural differences on attitudes, behaviours, and habits that emerge in tabletop gameplay marks a significant research problem, because in order to create more inclusive and relevant games, it is key to understand cultural differences. In an era where equality and respect remain more difficult to achieve than ever, board and tabletop games can be a medium that allows racial-ethnic diversity and cultural expression. To address this, we propose a 2-intern project evaluating how cultural and economic factors affect player decisions regarding playing tabletop games, through literature review, online user studies, and qualitative data analysis, to conclude in the form of a final report that summarizes and discusses the research insights and how they can become actionable for Wiggles 3D and the general Canadian public.
Improving Consumer Personal Financial Management Needs Through Gamification
In this project, we investigate principles of positive gamification towards building financial literacy (according to Fortune Magazine, about two-thirds of Americans cannot calculate interest payments correctly let alone know how to do this) and improved financially responsible behaviour surrounding money transfers and interactions in their bank accounts. We plan to build a research framework for gamification in financial contexts with a specific focus on financial literacy, which defines standard terminologies, methodologies, and scientific benchmarks.