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Lennart Nacke

Associate Professor

Lennart Nacke

About Professor Nacke

Dr. Nacke's work is located within the information and communication technologies, design, psychology and human-computer interaction space, but also ties closely into the areas of human health and wellness. He uses biotechnology (namely, physiological sensors) and much of his research is located in the field of user research, where he is focused on evaluating physiological signals elicited by humans when playing games. Games provide moments of high stress as well as high engagement; he is interested in finding and evaluating these critical moments of human emotion. Psychophysiological analysis and physiological sensors allow us to track player sentiments to gauge engagement, cognition, and player emotions. When we understand human emotions and human cognition in these critical gameplay situations, we can make inferences about human information processing in more general setting as well. Professor Nacke's research in human-computer interaction in games has also led to finding novel sensors and interaction paradigms that drive how we interact with computers in a meaningful and engaging way.

At the University of Waterloo, Professor Nacke is an Associate Professor and directs the HCI Games Group. He was chair of the CHI PLAY 2014 and Gamification 2013 conferences. He has taught human-computer interaction (HCI) and game design at UOIT before arriving at the University of Waterloo. He is strongly interested in using game design to improve information systems and for value creation. His research focuses on the creation and analysis of digital gaming environments and mechanics; his speciality is using psychophysiological sensors.

He also chaired the CHI 2014 games and entertainment spotlight. His publications have won Best Paper Honourable Mention (awarded to the top five per cent) and Best Paper Awards (awarded to the top one per cent) at the premier human-computer interaction conferences CHI 2011 and CSCW 2012. He has published more than 100 scientific papers, which have been cited more than 3,000 times.

Current Research Areas:

Gamification: Involves the use of game design principles in systems that primarily support non-game tasks, with the goal of increasing fun, engagement and motivation. Dr. Nacke has been involved in the definition of the term and leading the academic movement in workshop and conference settings.

Games user research: Developing new methods and tools for improving player testing and user research in games and entertainment systems. 

Games for human health and fitness: Making sports, physiological exercise, and health applications more playful has become one of Dr. Nacke's recent research focus areas, especially in light of the recent increase in sensor use and the quantified self movement. As part of this, he has investigated how to foster healthy habits, such as sticking to a fitness routines and engaging older adults with technology. His students have developed their own apps and his research team has worked with companies such as Ayogo Health, Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia, to analyze social health games on Facebook. A recent Engage grant with Vintage Fitness in Toronto supported a project to develop a gamified online fitness service to keep older adults fit and healthy. 

HCI for games: Finding novel sensors and interaction paradigms that drive the manner in which we interact with computers in a meaningful
and engaging way.

Affective gaming: Research using psychophysiological analysis and physiological sensors to track player sentiments when gauging engagement, cognition and player emotions.

Social relationship-building games: Developing games and installations that can be used in public spaces to build relationships and foster social interaction in groups.

For more information, please see Dr. Nacke's research profile and publication links.

University of Waterloo

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