Welcome to the Games Institute!

Our Projects

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Weekly critical essays, commentaries, and book reviews on games.



Major Events

Waterloo Game Jam is a thrice-annual, multi-day event hosted by The Games Institute (GI). Each of these events are open to the public and are designed to appeal to a wide variety of playful people.

Game Jam Fall 2016 logo


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Every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm-9pm, UW Game Dev Club meets at the GI! This is your opportunity to hang out with local game developers in a more casual atmosphere. Show off your latest projects, receive valuable play-testing feedback from like-minded peers, learn new tools and techniques, and networking with potential collaborators.


What is the importance of play in developing critical thinking and digital literacy skills?

The Games Institute hosted a panel discussion entitled Playful Thinking: A Conversation on Games, Learning, and Literacy on Monday, October 31st from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. This panel of experts, all of which are games scholars, discussed the ways in which games and play in the 21stcentury are implicated by social, political, cultural, and pedagogical components.

If you weren't able to view the livestream, here is a link to the recording of the panel: 

The Games Institute at UWaterloo and Why We Need It

Our very own Neil Randall, Director of The Games Institute has been featured in the UWaterloo Alumni blog. 

The Games Institute officially came into being in June 2011. Those of us who collaborated to put it together, of whom Drs. Karen Collins (Drama & Speech Communications), Stacey Scott (Systems Design Engineering), and I (English) were the first members, decided we needed a formal research centre if we wanted to push the study of games to the forefront, and to make sure that we were engaging all the departments and faculties that we needed to get involved. Games, by their very nature, are multidisciplinary creations, and whenever we discussed what games could become we knew that we needed research and creativity from essentially all disciplines. The future of games will rely on new technologies and new ways of interacting with those technologies, but it will also rely heavily on psychological and sociological understandings of what we do when we play, on stories and narratives that reach far beyond what today’s games offer, and on extensive work in a wide range of fields, from health to education, into how games can guide us, change us, and help us.

Read more about his views on gaming and how he believes games can help us on the Alumni Blog.

Featured Videos

  1. Mar. 14, 2017Dr. Barnett-Cowan's Research Showcased at Ontario Science CentreBiomechanics display

    Biometrics: The Machine Inside exhibit, gives visitors at the Ontario Science Centre a hands-on look at the natural engineering that drives human and animal movement.

  2. Mar. 2, 2017GI Faculty Members Awarded CFI GrantsCFI logo

    Nineteen researchers at the University of Waterloo will receive a total of $1.4 million for infrastructure to support research. The Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funds will provide researchers with the research infrastructure necessary to lead in their field.  

    Among those awarded, Games Institute faculty members will receive a total of $165,000.

  3. May 6, 2016SWaGUR: Saskatchewan-Waterloo Games User Research Receives $1.65 million in Funding from NSERC for Innovative Research Projects

    The Games Institute and the University of Saskatchewan have received $1.65 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to support innovative research projects aimed to prepare graduates within science and engineering for jobs.

Read all news

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Meet our people

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Jennifer Whitson

Assistant Professor, Sociology and Legal Studies

Jennifer Whitson is the Research Advisor for Execution Labs, an accelerator and investment platform for indie game studios, as well as an affiliated faculty member with the Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre  (TAG) at Concordia University.

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