Welcome to the Games Institute

The Games Institute (GI) is a multidisciplinary research centre at the University of Waterloo focused on the study of games, gamification, interactive technologies and immersive environments (AR/VR).

allergies and allegories

kitchen table

places please


reading garden

quantum cats

above water


rival books

rival books of aster

hustle and flow

First Person Scholar

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


GI Jam

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

Game Jam Fall 2016 logo

Game Dev Club

controller image

Every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm-9pm at the GI.

This is your opportunity to meet and collaborate with local game developers in a casual atmosphere.

Show off your latest projects, receive valuable play-testing feedback from like-minded peers, learn new tools and techniques, and network with potential collaborators.


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.


- Dr. Neil Randall, Director of the Games Institute

  1. Apr. 10, 2019John Harris wins third place at Velocity Graduate Student Fund finals towards his enterprise: The Playful Pixel

    GI member John Harris won third place, with a $5,000 grant, at the Velocity Graduate Student Fund finals for his pitch to develop his enterprise, The Playful Pixel. Harris is a PhD student in Computer Science studying asymmetric games as a means of promoting inclusiveness and getting more kinds of people playing together.

  2. Apr. 4, 2019Ashley Mehlenbacher's new book: "Science Communication Online"Science Communication Online book cover

    Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher, Assistant Professor in Rhetorical Studies at the University of Waterloo has authored a new book titled, "Science Communication Online: Engaging Experts and Publics on the Internet". The book is available in hardcover and paperback from major retailers and The Ohio State UP, and is also freely available online through an open access license.  

    "Science Communication Online" explores the interactions between scientific experts and the general public in the new age of the Internet. The book discusses the themes of genre studies and rhetorical criticism, crowdfunding for research funding, databases for knowledge production, and blogging for scientific engagement.

  3. Mar. 28, 2019Terrorarium early access trailer by Stitch Media and GI Members

    Watch the early assess trailer for March 2019 game Terrorarium by Stitch Media, a media development company based in Toronto. Games Institute members Adam Bradley, Michael Hancock, and Judy Ehrentraut collaborated with Stitch Media on Terrorarium through Mitacs partnerships.

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  1. Apr. 25, 2019John Harris Seminar

    Leveraging Asymmetry and Interdependence to Enhance Social Connectedness in Cooperative Digital Games


    Asymmetric cooperative games---games that present their players with sharply contrasting aesthetic experiences in the same shared play space---are well-positioned to tackle the multi-faceted problem of bridging preference and ability boundaries among members of preexisting social circles, and supporting the development of enriching social capital.

All upcoming events
  1. Mar. 5, 2019Recap: GI Global Game Jam Winter 2019

    The Games Insititute (GI) Game Jam takes place every term. But, once a year, the event becomes a part of something larger: every Winter, the GI Game Jam becomes a satelite event for the internationally renowned Global Game Jam.

  2. Jan. 22, 2019Spotlight on Games Institute members at GRADflix

    Fall 2018, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs launched the first ever GRADflix competition. Graduate students were invited to create a 60-second video, moving slide show, or animation about their research. Entries were judged based on communication, creativity and visual impact, and technical quality.

  3. Jan. 14, 2019Spotlight on the GI members at Interactive Surfaces and Spaces (ISS) 2018

    Several members of the Games Institute and the UW Touchlab participated in the 13th annual ACM International Conference on Interactive Surfaces & Spaces (ISS) in Tokyo, Japan from November 25-28, 2018. The research they presented ranged from work on multi-touch surfaces and interactive 3D spaces to optimizing how health care providers collect feedback from patients.

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IMMERSe Network

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Participate in Our Research

Subscribe to our Research Participants Mailing List to hear about opportunities to be a study participant in the work done by The Games Institute researchers!

Meet our people

Leah Zhang-Kennedy

Lecturer, User Experience Research and Design

Leah teaches User Experience Design and Innovation at the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus. She joined Waterloo from an interdisciplinary background, bridging design and research from computer science, human-computer interaction, and graphic design. She has four years of industry experience working as a designer.

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