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Speaker directory


Physiological sensing in games and VR: From user research to biocybernetic adaptation

Abstract:

Overall, physiological sensing has been extensively used as a passive technique to record human responses while interacting with videogames and VR applications. However, those signals have been also utilized either to extend the communication pathways for interfacing the nervous system with the virtual environments or to augment the interaction by means of modulating game variables in response to any detected human state (biocybernetic adaptation). For instance, cardio-adaptive exercise games (Exergames) can use real-time heart rate measurements to persuade older players to exert in recommended levels, thus avoiding risks and maximizing exercise benefits. In this talk, we will discuss the use of physiological sensing from a game-user research perspective, moving towards a more active use of it as input into games and VR applications and showing biocybernetic systems that augment exercise, rehab and neuro-rehab activities based on serious games for health.

Bio:

John Muñoz obtained his PhD in Human-Computer Interaction at NeuroRehabLab in the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, Portugal. He has been studying the use of physiological signals to foster health benefits while interacting with serious games. He has designed and co-developed a dozen videogames ced with physiological sensors such as brain-computer interfaces (BCI), heart rate monitors, depth cams, and wearable electromyography armbands as well as a set of software tools that to promote the synergy between physiological computing and gaming. His research interests cover physiological computing, biocybernetic adaptation, game user research, serious games for health and virtual reality applications. He will join the Intelligent Technologies for Wellness and Independent Living Lab at the University of Waterloo as a postdoctoral researcher at the end of 2018.

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Design and evaluation of CityQuest, a video game aimed at older adults with fear of falling

Eugenie Roudaia joined us November 30 to share her research on gameful applications to study and reduce older adults' fear of falling. 

Abstract:

Older adults face an increased risk of falls, which often have significant negative consequences, including developing a fear of falling. Older adults with fear of falling often restrict their activities, which leads to social isolation and accelerated cognitive decline. This talk presents our work in designing, creating, and evaluating a video game, CityQuest, aimed at improving balance confidence, spatial cognition, and multisensory processing of older adults at risk of falling. First, I will describe the design and conceptualization of the game, including consultations with end users, survey of the literature, and pilot testing. Next, I will present the design and results of the intervention study we conducted in a group of healthy and fall-prone older adults. The study evaluated the effects of the game on balance confidence, spatial cognition, and perception, as well as subjective aspects of game experience and acceptability of the game as a falls-related intervention. Our results indicate that video games that challenge balance, spatial cognition, and perception are rated as enjoyable and beneficial by older adults and present a powerful tool to improve   balance confidence, perception, and cognition in older adults.

Bio:

Eugenie Roudaia received her PhD in Psychology at McMaster University, where she examined the effects of healthy aging on visual perception with Patrick Bennett and Allison Sekuler. During her postdoctoral fellowship at Trinity College Dublin with Fiona Newell, she worked as part of an FP7-ICT project in which academic and industry partners designed, created, and tested virtual reality and serious games aimed at vulnerable populations. She then held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Université de Montréal with Jocelyn Faubert, examining attention and multisensory processing. Dr. Roudaia is currently a Scientific Associate at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. She is interested in understanding the effects of healthy and pathological aging on perception and cognition and in developing training tools that can improve brain function in older age.

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Multimodal Semiotics and Teaching in a Dedicated Game Studies Program

Jason Hawreliak joined us from Brock University on November 13 to talk about his recently published book, "Multimodal Semiotics and Rhetoric in Videogames", and to share his experiences of teaching in a dedicated Game Studies program.

Abstract:

Videogames rely on complex signification systems to communicate information to players, including image, sound, text, haptic feedback, and procedurality. This complexity poses challenges for both theorists and developers. Drawing on a diverse range of game genres, the first half of this talk outlines an analytical framework for tackling the problem of complexity in videogames by way of multimodal semiotics. The second half of the talk looks at some of the challenges and opportunities that come with teaching in a dedicated games program. 

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Virtual Reality (VR) in Second Language Learning

Amy Liang is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Arts degree, Psychology major and Human Resource Management minor. She is passionate about second language acquisition and learning about new ideas that could help people with their language learning experiences.

Abstract:

Learning a new language can always be exciting but at times frustrating. But how come we never felt learning our first language so hard when we were a little kid? And as grownups having the better executive functioning, why would this advantage we have in return acted as a barrier in our new language learning experience? This short presentation will be looking at the three basic linguistic levels, discuss how and why was it harder for adults to learn a new language, and how can we use modern technologies like AI and VR to help with the language learning experience. 

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Trauma and Demogorgons: Analyzing Dungeons & Dragons in Stranger Things

Toben Racicot is a PhD student in English at the University of Waterloo. Listen to the full recording of his Brown Bag talk.

Abstract:

Dungeons & Dragons is more than a motif in Stranger Things. It acts as a therapeutic tool to forestall trauma. Much like Freud’s analysis of the “Fort-Da” game his grandson played, Dungeon & Dragons is not simply a game, but a practice that establishes mental armatures in anticipation of future trauma. This paper combines game theory concepts like uncertainty, objectives, role-play, and failure with Freud’s theories about trauma, repetition compulsion, and the “Fort-Da” to analyze Dungeon & Dragons’ importance in Stranger Things. This analysis shows that games, specifically Dungeons & Dragons, are an effective tool to anticipate trauma; they provide a safe place to become a hero, and empower players to develop psychic protections in anticipation of future traumatic moments.

This paper focuses on the trauma of a person missing or leaving, as this is the inciting incident of season one and relevant trauma in most characters’ lives, being children of divorced, dead, or emotionally absent parents. Incorporating psychoanalytic theories from Sigmund Freud, Deborah Britzman, E. Ann Kaplan, Cathy Caruth, and Ruth Lays, shows how the game works for the Stranger Things cast as they encounter trauma events through the first season and also how these principles can be applied in readers’ lives. Therefore, this paper functions as both psychoanalysis of Dungeons & Dragons in Stranger Things and displaying its potential for real world applications. The understanding brought to light by Dungeons & Dragons’ role in Stranger Things allows readers to better grasp the need for imagination, role-play, and collaboration as part of trauma foresight.

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Engaging bodies in computation media

Dr. Ali Mazalek joined us October 9 from Ryerson University to give a Brown Bag talk on human cognition and computational media. Coupled together, large data sets and computational techniques are transforming our interactions with each other and with information sources across society, gradually reinventing our decision-making and knowledge building processes. Yet as physical beings, we still rely heavily on material and sensory ways of constructing knowledge in the world. A gradual shift in the cognitive sciences toward embodied paradigms of human cognition can inspire us to think about why and how computational media should engage our bodies and minds together. By supporting a close connection between our motor, perceptual and cognitive systems, emerging human-computer interaction techniques can offer powerful opportunities to re-think the way we engage with and construct knowledge in a cyberphysical world. This talk presented ongoing research and prototype systems from the Synaesthetic Media Lab that explore how tangible and embodied interactions can support and enhance creativity, discovery and learning across the physical and digital worlds.

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Evaluating human-machine interactions for cognitive load without interrupting behaviour

September 27, 2018, Dr. Lewis Chuang visited the GI to share his research on cybernetics and human-machine interactions. Dr. Chuang is a researcher at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.

In this talk, Chuang presented his findings from several studies on how inattentional blindness and inattentional deafness while driving impair our ability to shift attention toward other perceptory cues. In other words, when we're too focused on a task such as driving, we don't notice other stimuli around us.

A lot of the gamers in the audience could relate to being so absorbed in a task that they don't notice what's happening around them. It's a common experience for anyone who has played games that require deep focus and attention - have you ever been so engrossed in a game that you don't hear someone calling your name?

Chuang's research investigates the potential dangers of inattentional blindness and deafness. When you're operating a vehicle, you have to be aware of all of your surroundings and you can't afford to miss important changes in the periphery.

With the final half of his talk, Chuang shifted gears toward self-driving cars. Automated, self-driving cars are a significant concern for Chuang because the new technology allows people to play games, watch movies, or do other work while driving. He posed this question to the audience:

How can we make sure people are paying attention to their surroundings when driving is the distraction?

This question is a work in progress. Perhaps there is a way to gamify the driving experience so that people are engaged with their surroundings. Gamification offers an interesting approach to making sure people can shift attention to the road even when they are engrossed in another task.

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Eluding Experiences — The Broken Promises of Player Experience Questionnaires 

Katta Spiel provides an overview of the dominant questionnaires in the field and discuss their conceptualisations of player experiences.  While researchers using them are usually aware of their limitations and report them, they are often neglected when it comes to citations and knowledge creations within the field.  Hence, Katta will further show how we applied the Game Experience Questionnaire on a Games Research project involving Tetris and where it limited their research.  They argue that through critically analysing our tools, we can understand them better, use them more sophistically in the future and move our focus to less researched experiences.

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Full-Arm Input for Smart Environments, Mixed Realities, and Video Game Systems

Dr. Adrian Reetz explores that while most current systems rely on emblem-type gestures, Dr. Reetz's implementation is built upon deictic illustrators instead. In addition, he discusses some of the theoretical background that supports his findings, such as the differences between human memory systems and how they influence people's learning capabilities. 

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Tales from the Front Lines: The Co-Evolution of Digital Play and Networked Storytelling

Pierson Browne borrows from Deci and Ryan's (2000) Self-Determination Theory, as well as Carter, Gibbs and Harrop's (2012) typology of 'metagaming,' to will explore how players act as interfaces between 'game' and 'metagame,' and what this can tell us about the communicative practices around which game communities cohere.

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Adventures in Animalia - Exploring the Roles of Animals in Video Games

Nicholas Hobin looks at the representation of animals in action-adventure video games, first broadly, and then in the specific case of Red Dead Redemption.

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Roleplaying as Terrible People in the Crows of Autumn

Jonathan Semple provides an explanation of the mechanics, design, and setting, within Crows of Autumn, and Jonathan also highlights some of the interesting situations, narratives, and decisions the game presents.
 

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Serious Games for Medical Education and Training

Bill Kapralos is an insightful talk where he discusses the application of serious games for medical and surgical education and training and also provides an overview of several existing serious games for a number of medical-based education training.

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Deciphering Reality in a Virtual World 

Melanie Buset is a talk where she considers how virtual reality will progress in terms of socializing within a virtual space. 

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Citizen Science Games and Player Agency

Dr. Ashley Rose Kelly explores how non-experts are helping to solve some of science’s most complex problems.

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Serious Games in Medical Training - taking advantage of stereoscopic 3D, haptics and sound 

Dr. Alvaro Uribe presents two examination scenarios where stereoscopic 3D, haptics and sound combined with VR and game elements play an important role in diagnosing the human eye and the human heart.

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Improving vision in patients with amblyopia ('lazy eye') using modified videogames 

Dr. Ben Thompson provides insight into the development of a modified video game approach to the treatment of amblyopia that is currently the subject of two randomized clinical trials and has the potential to change the treatment of amblyopia internationally.

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Google Glass and Augmented Reality: A Study 

Umair Rehman explains his research, including the design, implementation and evaluation of a novel markerless environment tracking technology for an augmented reality based indoor navigation application, adapted to efficiently operate on a proprietary head-mounted display. 

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The Limits of Play

Dr. Jen Whitson considers the effectiveness of gamification to the quantification of everyday life. Her Brown Bag also explains how the quantification in gamification is different from the quantification in both analog spaces and digital non-game spaces.

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Escape Rooms: Genre, Immersion, and Play 

Dr. Emma Vossen, University of Waterloo alumnus and GI member.