The Games Institute acknowledges that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
The Games Institute (GI) is noted for encompassing 9000sq ft, 6 enclosed labs, 50 student cubicles, 4 shared faculty offices, 2 administrative offices, 1 enclosed large presentation room (30-person capacity), a large open-concept collaboration/event area (80-person capacity) and state-of-the-art, CFI-funded equipment. The breadth of space sets us apart from other labs on campus as all these spaces mentioned above are modular so that they can fit whatever research purpose is needed. For instance, our VR Storytelling Lab doubles as a podcast studio, and the Presentation Room has a track-system installed for large-scale motion capture. Most of our furniture has wheels and can be taken apart and re-configured into many different iterations to fit these needs. The is space also designed as an open concept, with a heavy emphasis on Indigenization and Indigenous Research Methodologies which encourages open conversation, collaboration, sharing of knowledge, and welcoming divergent perspectives. The GI is also certified for smudging ceremonies.
Facilities and Equipment
A key part of the GI’s facility are co-located research labs. Students and faculty researchers benefit from ongoing collaboration, exchange of knowledge and ideas as they take advantage of the co-located labs, and other research infrastructure. Access to all labs is centrally managed by GI administrative staff and is fully open to the entire membership of the Institute. A full list of the labs and their capabilities can be found below.
Our equipment is funded in large part through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which allows us to purchase state of the art equipment including:
- Industry grade 3D printer
- VR and AR headsets with eye tracking
- Biometric equipment and bio sensors
- Opti-track motion capture system
- Multiple generations of game consoles from Play Station, Xbox, Nintendo, and the latest Steam Deck
- Multiple Cisco Board Pro touch screens
- Multiple Microsoft Kinects
- 4 Planar EP-Series touch screens (Mechdyne)
- Multiple Microsoft HoloLens
- High-powered gaming computers
- Tilt Five augmented reality system
- DSLR, GoPro, and 360 cameras
- High quality audio equipment and recording hardware
- Laser cuter
- Ultimaker 3D printer
GI Work Spaces
The Collaboration Space
The Collaboration Space has a capacity for 80 people and is made up of modular furniture that can be taken apart and re-configured into many different iterations to fit the needs of the membership including events, meetings, symposiums, etc. This space is also designed as an open concept, with a heavy emphasis on Indigenization and Indigenous Research Methodologies which encourages open conversation, collaboration, sharing of knowledge, and welcoming divergent perspectives. It is also certified for regular smudging ceremonies by the Office of Indigenous Relations. This space holds many different types of plants as part of a joint initiative with the GI’s Indigenization efforts and UW’s Green Office Program. There are many different types of board games for the membership including some created by members for study and play. The Collaboration Space is located next to a 3D industry grade printer.
Shared Faculty Offices
The GI has 4 shared faculty offices that faculty members are encouraged to use at their discretion to be closer to their students. These offices feature large whiteboards, computer terminals with docking stations, and storage space. Many faculty like to use these offices for one-on-one meetings with students. Shared faculty offices are renewed on a termly basis.
The GI holds 50 student cubicles which have been in regular use since 2018 and has access to 2 monitors, ethernet ports (link to the GI Network), and storage space. Computer equipment is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide with the student, but the GI is happy to help out with cables and minor computer accessories. Student cubicles are renewed on a termly basis.
Shared Spaces among EC1 Residents
The GI inhabits EC1 alongside Human Resources and the Office of Advancement. In sharing this space, EC1 residents are free to access a communal kitchen, gender neutral washrooms, and the board room, which is often used for meetings. The board room is built for conferences and features equipment from Dr. Neil Randall’s StoryBoard Lab.
GI Research Labs
The space currently houses 6 CFI-funded labs from researchers based in Arts, Engineering, and Applied Health Sciences.
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. It is sound-proof, has white walls, a track system, and no windows. These features make the space ideal for running participant studies where researchers need to limit environmental stimuli that could cause issues in the research. Many researchers like to use this as a study space. This lab was funded by Dr. Neil Randall’s CFI Grant and features equipment funded by Dr. Lennart Nacke’s grants.
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 GI Podcast. This lab was funded by Drs. Neil Randall and Ashley Mehlenbacher’s CFI Grant.
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. It houses two Cisco Board Pro touch screens as well as 4 Planar EP-Series touch screens (Mechdyne). There is a multi-track unit attached to the ceiling to assist in motion-capture and VR simulations. This room is a drop-in study space when not booked. This room features equipment funded by Drs. Jim Wallace and Neil Randall respective CFI grants.
Living Room Lab
The Living Room Lab is 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. This room also features retro-gaming consoles and a tube TV for those who study the history and development of graphics. Researchers choose to operate their studies out of this space if they want to make 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 researchers must play the game to analyse it. This lab was funded by Dr. Neil Randall’s CFI Grant.
Haptic Experience Lab (HX Lab MakerSpace)
The infrastructure of the Haptic Experience Lab provides haptic researchers at the GI and the Canada Haptics Network with opportunities to develop multisensory touch experiences. The lab is open to all GI members who wish to tinker, or learn how to research through the act of making hardware. This lab was funded by Dr. Oliver Schneider’s CFI Grant.
The StoryBoard Lab
The StoryBoard Lab is designed to answer one major question: How do we tell complex, compelling stories on large, interactive touch screens? Drawing on knowledge from the humanities, the social sciences, computer science, engineering, and the health sciences, the StoryBoard Lab emphasizes hybrid collaboration between virtual and in-person interactions. This lab is not in a central location but rather pieces of it embody all the physical at the GI. This lab was funded by Dr. Neil Randall’s CFI Grant.