Welcome to the Games Institute

Thanks for joining us for a virtual tour of the Games Institute. We’ve set up this tour to show you our facility, and highlight the people that keep our ecosystem thriving. Whether you came to our institute as a potential member or partner, or are just exploring a new part of campus, we’re excited to guide you through the world of games and interactive technologies research.

Imagine you’re standing with us, in the hallway that leads into the GI. You’d be surrounded, quite literally, by our research. Not only because the doors off this hallway, to the left and right, lead right into the hearts of the GI, but also this hallway is lined with posters displaying our research projects and initiatives. Every poster tells a story about our research.

Learn about Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation (DOHR), the virtual reality rendering of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children our members made to teach high school history students about systemic racism in Canada. Then move down the hall to discover how three GI members collaborated with industry partner, Stitch Media, to develop the game Terrorarium, which was featured in Indiecade at E3. Click here to browse the posters and read about the variety of ways our interdisciplinary researchers work with games and interactive technologies.

Nicholas in the hallway of posters

Tour Directory

  1. Meet the Games Institute Staff
  2. Enter the Collaboration Space
  3. Get to Know Our Inventory
  4. Learn About Our Research Labs

Meet the Games Institute Staff

Let’s head on in through the door and see who’s around. Our Operations Coordinator sits at the very first desk so you can’t miss them when you walk in. They are in charge of managing the resource inventory and lab facilities. If you have any questions about the Games Institute, send an email to the Ops Coordinator at games.institute@uwaterloo.ca.

As we keep walking, meet two more members of our staff team, also working right by the entrance. Our Research Projects Manager supports GI members with project and partnership inquiries, and our Research Communications Officer amplifies GI research to the world. The leadership team at the Games Institute are also available during the day from their respective offices. Executive Director, Dr. Neil Randall, Associate Director, Dr. Mark Hancock and Associate Director of Administration and Strategic Planning, Agata Antkiewicz will be happy to talk to you about your specific research collaboration interests.

Enter the Collaboration Space

The Collaboration Space is where most of the action happens at the Games Institute. It’s an open-concept area with tables, chair, screens, and games. Regardless of whether or not you have a desk at the GI (what we call “resident status”), you’re welcome to come and work in the collaboration space. Most of our serendipitous, interdisciplinary crossovers happen in the Collaboration Space through chance encounters or social lunches that blend into talking about research. A lot of our members choose to conduct meetings in the collaboration space in order to encourage that serendipity: they know that working in the collaboration space signals to others that it’s ok to drop in and join the meeting.

Collaboration Spage

We run research events and social gatherings in the Collaboration Space too, since it has the capacity to host up to 80 people. In any given week, you’ll likely see different groups running writing circles, playtests, brainstorming sessions, and lab meetings.

The Games Institute staff team also runs more structured research lectures, workshops, and project launches throughout the terms with video recordings published to our YouTube channel afterwards. All the tables and chairs are modular, so feel free to start thinking about how you would like to use the space.

Get to Know Our Inventory

We have a large collection of board games and video games across a variety of consoles, all available to GI members. Often, we use these games to help break the ice with our new members. One-Night-Ultimate Werewolf is often our go-to team bonding game – read this article by Pamela Schmidt, an English graduate, and staff member, to see why. In our collection, we keep games and prototypes created by GI members. Here are some examples to get you started:

Our 3D printer was purchased via the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant awarded to Dr. Mark Hancock (Associate Director). Use of the 3D printer is managed by a member of the UW Touchlab. It’s hospital-grade, meaning that it has the capability of printing organic medical-grade items. Marco Moran-Ledesma, graduate student in Systems Design Engineering, uses the 3D printer to create objects to build into interactive systems in virtual reality for his research.

3D printed objects

Learn About Our Research Labs

Immersion Room

All of our labs have restricted access, granted to members based on their research needs. Good news though! On this tour, you get to see what’s behind the doors. The Immersion Room has 5 independent workstations around the perimeter. The stations vary in what they offer including high end TVs, monitors, VR equipment and one even has a larger biometric sensor system. The Immersion Room is sound-proof, has white walls, and no windows. These features actually make the space ideal for running participant studies where researchers need to limit environmental stimuli that could cause issues in the research.Immersion Room

Virtual Reality (VR) Storytelling Lab

The VR Storytelling Lab has multiple purposes, all enabling GI members to develop and study VR experiences with rich narratives. The computers in the lab allow researchers to take advantage of VR development software. It’s a great studio space, featuring a full suite of recording equipment that we take advantage of to record the Games Institute Podcast. 

Presentation Room

Our largest lab is the presentation room which is approximately the size of a classroom. Our members book the room to use for group meetings, such as writing circles, lab talks, partner meetings, and workshops. The Presentation Room houses two of our large Smart Screens. When you come visit, don’t forget to look up! There is a multi-track unit attached to the ceiling to assist in motion-capture and VR simulations.

Presentation Room

Living Room Lab

Our most popular lab, the Living Room Lab is actually best described as the antithesis of the Immersion Room. It is bright with windows, green walls, and a colourful comfy seating facing a 4K TV and gaming consoles. Researchers choose to operate their studies out of this space if they want to make their participants feel comfortable or replicate a social setting. Many humanities researchers also use this space to play games-an important aspect of English methodology in which the game acts as a "text" and researhers must play the game to analyze it. 

Living Room

Haptic Experience Lab (HEX Lab MakerSpace)

The infrastructure of Dr. Oliver Schneider’s Haptic Experience Lab provides haptic researchers at the Games Institute and the Canada Haptics Network with opportunities to develop multisensory touch experiences for research through design projects dedicated to extending the applications of haptic technology to the realms of accessible design, science teaching, games user experiences, and user research, more broadly. The Haptic Experience Lab is open to all GI members who wish to tinker, or learn how to research through the act of making hardware. 

StoryBoard Lab 

The StoryBoard Lab is designed to answer one major question: How do we tell complex, compelling stories on large, interactive touch screens typically used for public information displays, for collaborative work in businesses, or, when available, for classroom purposes in educational institutions? Drawing on knowledge from the humanities, the social sciences, computer science, engineering, and the health sciences, the StoryBoard Lab will develop a program of research that will address this central question through the lens of these disciplinary fields. This research will be necessarily multidisciplinary and collaborative, providing the expected focus for a large number and broad range of innovative designs and studies.

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