Spotlight 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. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs showcased all 15 videos from the finalists at the GRADflix showcase. The videos are also available online.

Four members from the Games Institute were among the 15 finalists: Tina Chan, Rina Wehbe, Jason Lajoie, and Siyavash Izadi. English PhD candidate Jason Lajoie was awarded second place for his video "Making gay identities: Queer media practices queering media technologies". MSc candidate Siyavash Izadi was awarded third place and the People's Choice award for his video, "Virtuality of Motion Sickness".


Tina Chan, an MSc candidate in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, discussed how she uses gamification to study Peer-to-Peer (P2P) support as a strategy for bolstering mental health treatments. Chan developed a digital game entitled "Merlynne" to simulate P2P support: players offer empathy to in-game characters in order to save the kingdom and win the game.

This is the first study on whether gamification using narratives and avatars can encourage peer support for mental health.

- Tina Chan from "The game of helping others"


Rina Wehbe, PhD candidate in Computer Science from the Cheriton School of Computer Science and member of the HCI games group, presented her doctoral research in a video called "Playing with space". Wehbe's work looks at how social factors influence how people use large, multi-touch displays. She specifically focuses on understanding social cues around large displays.

This research will contribute to the design of personal displays in the future to make information more accessible and increase collaboration 

- Rina Wehbe, from "Playing with space"


Jason Lajoie, English PhD candidate and member of the Critical Media Lab, presented his doctoral research on how technology influences queer identities in his video, "Making gay identities: Queer media practices queering media technologies". Lajoie studies how queer identities have been and continue to be constructed and communicated through technological tools. His video gives the examples of typewriters, carbon copy paper, and cell phones as tools that afford and constrain how queer people form, define, and express their identities.

My work proposes ways of critically engaging with technology to make a more equitable and ethical future for every identity.

- Jason Lajoie, from "Making gay identities: Queer media practices queering media technologies"


Siyavash Izadi, MSc candidate in Kinesiology and member of the Multisensory Brain and Cognition lab, explains how he studies motion sickness and Virtual Reality (VR) in his video "Virtuality of motion sickness".  Izadi collects biometric data - like nausea, perspiration, and heart rate - from people while they use VR and uses machine learning to take that data and predict and score someone's sickness.

By understanding the underlying causes of motion sickness, we will be able to work our way towards predicting and preventing this common condition.

- Siyavash Izadi