Impact Report 2022

Virtual Reality for Social Justice with Dr. Kristina Llewellyn

Kristina Llewellyn profile headshot

GI Faculty member Dr. Kristina Llewellyn is the perfect example of a scholar who fits in naturally at the GI, despite being a self-professed “non-gamer” in her personal life. It took GI Executive Director, Dr. Neil Randall, some time to convince Kristina to join the GI, simply because she didn’t think she was familiar enough with games-specific research. However, Kristina quickly found that there was more to the GI, and games, than what she had previously thought.

Discover how Dr. Kristina Llewllyn and her research team have been using virtual reality and haptic technologies in the Digital Oral Histories for Reconciliation project.

Dr. Emma Vossen: The Journey There and Back Again

If Emma Vossen’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably because she is one of the earliest members of the GI. She recalls the conversations in the basement of the PAS (Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology) building on campus or the Rum Runner bar in downtown Kitchener (in 2013!) with Dr. Neil Randall and other graduate students about what the GI could be.

After defending her dissertation in 2018 and setting out from Waterloo, she has returned to her old stomping grounds for the next stage of her career as the GI’s Research Communications Officer.  

So why here? And why now?  

Read more about Emma's journey at the GI.

Sit Down with 5 Postdoctoral Researchers

The GI has long been a place for recent PhD graduates to continue their journey into academia or industry. This year, we're highlighting the experiences of the latest group of postdoctoral researchers who've taken up residence in the GI.

A Spotlight on Games Institute Executive Director Dr. Neil Randall

Neil Randall sitting in the Living Room Lab

Everyone associated with the Games Institute knows our Executive Director, Dr. Neil Randall, but how much do they really know about Neil?

Learn more about Neil's eclectic background from Tolkien scholar to games studies enthusiast.

Two green leaves with the words "seed funding" and "The Games instittue"

The Games Institute Seed Funding Program

The Seed Funding Program was officially launched in 2022 to support GI-associated researchers, promoting interdisciplinary collaborations while also encouraging members to reach out to colleagues outside of their home disciplines. Recipients combined their expertise to tackle real-world problems facing indigenous communities, healthcare workers, children with speech difficulties, mothers facing homelessness, citizen scientists, and VR, XR and social media consumers. The competition offered up to$15,000 per proposal.

Learn more about the recipients and projects supported by this initiative.

A graphic depicting how coronavirus interacts with the lungs.

A graphic depicting how coronavirus interacts with the lungs.

Games Institute and Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology partner to create educational game about nasal spray

Games Institute (GI) and Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology (WIN) researchers have been working together on strategies to better educate the public about how the application of nanotechnology (the manipulation of materials on an atomic or molecular scale) impacts our daily lives. The first of these projects focuses on educating the public about how DNA-based nasal sprays can be used as intranasal vaccines during this crucial time.

Discover how members of the HCI Games Group led by Dr. Lennart Nacke developed and created this interactive game.

Rings of Power with Dr. Neil Randall

A critical watch party of the new Rings of Power show, fostering discussion on the works and adaptations of Tolkien.

Lord of the Rings at the GI: A Critical Reflection on "The Rings of Power"

If you have spent more than an hour at the Games Institute, you have probably found yourself drawn into a conversation about Lord of the Rings (LOTR) in some capacity, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Executive Director, Dr. Neil Randall has been writing and teaching about Tolkien since the late 80s as part of his Fantasy Literature classes, and his enthusiasm for LOTR is infectious, leading many students to pursue research in this area and many more LOTRs debates to play out during lunch at the GI. 

This event series encouraged participants to reflect on how Tolkien's works are adapted in film and television. Read more about their experiences and the outcome of this series.

President Vivek Goel Visits the GI Openhouse

President Vivek Goel learning about DOHR

[Left to Right]: PhD Candidate Bibhushan Raj Joshi, President Vivek Goel, Associate Vice-President Research and International Dr. Bernard P. Dunker, and Associate Director, Strategic Planning and Administration Agata Antkiewicz

On Wednesday, October 5th the GI opened its doors to the public for its annual Open House. Guests were able to explore the entire 9000-square-foot GI space, including lab spaces, to discover the interactive and immersive technologies research conducted in the GI’s collaborative interdisciplinary environment.

All areas of the GI were occupied by over 35 faculty and graduate student GI members and their projects, including many game and equipment demonstrations. Additionally, 16 other researchers who could not present in person provided slides summarizing their projects that were displayed in the collaboration space. Researchers also provided selected journal articles which were printed and available to guests for journal articles “shopping” to take home.

Of the guests, President Vivek Goel of the University of Waterloo visited the GI and spoke with members about their ongoing research projects. Learn more about the Open House and what the GI had in store for President Goel. 

Events of 2022

To support the research needs of the membership, the GI strives to facilitate a wide variety of events and workshops. In the very increasing interdisciplinary scope, 2022 featured design workshops; panel discussions on the intersections of games, education, and health; an event series on emerging scholarship within digital feminist studies; and ongoing work completed by masters and doctoral students at the GI.











Visitors learning about First Person Scholar

Visitors learning about First Person Scholar.

First Person Scholar

First Person Scholar (FPS) is a game studies publication with an editorial team composed of GI graduate students. Since its launch in 2012, FPS has published essays, commentaries, and book reviews about all types of games and game scholarship. This also includes the publication of First Person Podcast.

This year, FPS has continued to highlight the voices and experiences of marginalized communities and their experiences with games and game communities with the release of two separate issues this year.

The Summer Issue: Rifts, Memories, and Community presents 4 essays and 2 commentaries on the topics of how community and memory are represented in such games like Rural Ontario: 1937, Rebel Inc., and SINoALICE.

Following this release was the special issue Decolonising Queer Games and Play edited by guest editor Khee Hoon Chan. This issue was dedicated to the voices and experiences of trans and queer of colour within the games space and their efforts in decolonising this area of study.

For a full list of all FPS publications in 2022, see the Games Institute Member Accomplishments.

Publications and Outreach

GI members continue to push the boundaries of interdisciplinary scholarship. While this year many events were still held virtually or supporting hybrid experiences, members continued to participated in scholarship activities that involved global audiences. This included presentations at annual conferences like the Canadian Game Studies Association, the Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (CHI), the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play  (CHI PLAY), and the Game Developers Conference GDC.

To support research endeavours, GI students and faculty members were awarded for their efforts through NSERC, SSHRC, and Mitacs funding. Check out the full list of publications, achievements, and awards by GI members.

Graduating and New Members

Members of the GI at the Openhouse

The GI continues to welcome faculty and students to the space as members and residents in its mission to support interdisciplinary scholarship. This included 4 faculty members, 2 postdoctoral fellows, and 30 undergraduate researchers, masters students, doctoral candidates, and visiting scholars.

Over the course of the year, 4 GI members have graduated and joined the every growing list of GI alumni that have found new opportunities in academia and industry on a global scale.

See the full list of new and graduating GI members.

In the midst of all this, 9 Ukrainian students joined the GI as members to continue their studies which had been disrupted by the Russian invasion. Supported the Students At Risk Fund and the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute, the GI provided space, support, and community to students displaced by conflict. Learn how the GI has supported the Ukrainian students.