Computer Science

Diane Watson profile headshotDiane Watson was a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Her focus is on gamification, in particular, how positive behaviours can be encouraged through games. She has been involved in the design of several games, including Reading Garden, an educational games that encourage students to participate in self-study activities such as reading the text book; and Vortex Mountain, an educational exergame that combines in-classroom learning with short bursts of exercise. She also does work using games to explore user experience with interactive technologies such as touch surfaces.

Sample Projects

Reading Garden

Reading Garden imageReading Garden is a simple game which encourages undergraduate students to read their text book. In the game, players grow and harvest flowers. The game has social features where players can visit and water other players gardens.
Like many games, there is a special currency which unlocks advanced gameplay mechanics, such as leveling up faster. To earn this currency, players must complete reading challenges related directly to assigned course readings from the textbook.

Watson, D., Hancock, M., Mandryk, R.L. 2013. Gamifying Behaviour the Leads to Learning. InGamification '13, 87-90.

Vortex Mountain

Vortex Mountain imageVortex Mountain is a classroom exergame that strives to deliver educational content as well as encourage short bursts of exercise.  The game is geared towards Grade 7s.  In the game, groups of students are unlocking computer stations to prevent a virus from destroying the world. To unlock a computer station they must solve a small word scramble through a variety of minigames. The word scramble question and answers are related to educational content (in our case we used English comprehension).

Vortrex Island MapOur mini games used the Kinect and exerbikes to facilitate exercise. Students were required to run, do jumping jacks, crouch and pedal. We simulated the climb up Vortex Mountain by detecting aerobic step exercises using the Wii Fit Boards. 

Watson, D., Mandryk, R.L., Stanley, K. 2013. The Design and Evaluation of a Classroom Exergame. In Gamification '13, 34-41. 

Sample Publications and Presentations

Designing a Gameful System to Support the Collection, Curation, Exploration, and Sharing of Sports MemorabiliaWatson, D.; Valtchanov, D.; Hancock, M.; and Mandryk, R. In Proceedings of the First ACM SIGCHI Annual Symposium on Computer-human Interaction in Play, of CHI PLAY '14, pages 451--452, New York, NY, USA, 2014. ACM 

Collectors often attach memories and stories to the objects they collect. These stories can be lost over time, and particularly when the collections are digitized. In this paper, we present semi-structured interviews with collectors of hockey memorabilia to inform a set of design guidelines for creating games and playful interfaces that support collectors. Our interviews highlighted the importance of narrative, organization, and authenticity to collection, and identified the need to support emergent behaviour. Our work provides an example of gameful design principles that could motivate collectors to digitize and share their collections.

Overcoming Interaction Barriers in Large Public Displays Using Personal DevicesCheung, V.; Watson, D.; Vermeulen, J.; Hancock, M.; and Scott, S. In Proceedings of the Ninth ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces, of ITS '14, pages 375--380, New York, NY, USA, 2014. ACM

This work presents a design space in which personal devices are used as a means to facilitate "socially safe", ad-hoc interaction with large public displays. Unlike most existing work that focuses on facilitating content placement and transfer, this approach aims at minimizing the effort required to initiate, sustain, and withdraw from interaction with a large public display, and to communicate these capabilities to passersby. We identify barriers hindering this process, and offer advice on overcoming them based on existing work and our own experiences with these displays. We illustrate how this design concept can be applied, and motivate applications in other domains.

Gamification 2013 - Gamifying Behaviour that Leads to Learning

Gamification 2013 - The Design and Evaluation of a Classroom Exergame​


For more information and to contact her, see her personal website.

University of Waterloo

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