First Person Scholar (FPS) is an online game studies periodical created and maintained by graduate students at the University of Waterloo through The Games Institute. FPS aims to occupy the niche between academic blogs and journals in establishing an informed, sustained conversation. Their articles are relatively short, thought-provoking pieces that are intended to stimulate debate on games and games scholarship.
Every Wednesday FPS publishes essays, commentaries, and book reviews in the niche between games journalism and games journals. Contributors are encouraged to take calculated risks with their submissions - in a way that challenges accepted definitions and practices. If journals document where games studies has gone, FPS is about where games studies is going.
Publications have three genres: essays, commentaries, and book reviews. Essays start with a core concept or theory of games studies and then demonstrate the presence of that theoretical component in various games. In contrast, commentaries provide a close examination of a single game, extrapolating concepts and theory found in a particular title. Lastly, book reviews offer in-depth readings, providing chapter by chapter summaries and are driven by the overarching question: what does this text bring to games studies? All documents are reviewed by the editorial staff prior to publication.
Graduate students involved: Steve Wilcox (co-founder & editor-in-chief), Kent Aardse (co-founder), Michael Hancock (co-founder), Jason Hawreliak, Meghan Blythe Adams, Rob Parker, Elise Vist, Emma Vossen, Natalee Blagden
Visit the First Person Scholar website to find out how you can get involved.
The Games Institute Janes (GI Janes) is a community devoted to supporting people who identify as women, as well as their allies, who are interested in talking about, playing, and making games.
The GI Janes also hosts monthly social gaming nights as well as workshops and discussion groups. The ultimate goal is to create a space that women feel a sense of ownership over and feel comfortable when playing and speaking about games.
Genetics, Environment and Therapies: Food Allergy Clinical Tolerance Studies (GET FACTS) is a multi-center, multi-disciplinary team that focuses on the important issues of immune tolerance of foods for those with food allergy. The team builds on current synergies between researchers within the AllerGen Network Centre of Excellence (AllerGen-NCE), and includes new partners to broaden the scope of research. The themes explored include Genetic Determinants of Food Allergy and Tolerance; Environmental Exposures that may Predispose to Food Allergy; Novel Biomarkers for Food Allergy; and Knowledge Translation and Dissemination.
The Games Institutes participates in the GET FACTS project by gamifying allergy awareness through the production of table-top games that are capable of educating children and the general public of common allergens found in basic dishes. Below are a few photos from the Kitchen Table board game, see more GET FACTS project photos.
The Interactive Media Project aims to research and create games, gamification, education media, digital and interactive theatre, etc. for the Stratford Festival and other theatres. Currently, we hope to create one cross-platform game for the Stratford Festival of Canada to bolster audience engagement and interaction with a designated production. Gamification principles and play theory are applied to create education-based materials develop and digitize a parallel-text edition of the Festival’s entire prompt book collection. This visual guide to dramaturgical history will extend the scope, accessibility, and relevance of textual analysis of how Shakespeare’s words have been used. Ultimately, we hope to develop a monograph on the Festival’s performance history, which will emerge from research conducted for education packages.
WatGAME: The Waterloo Game Analysis & Monitoring Environment - Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant
WatGAME is a configurable monitoring and testing games-immersion facility at the University of Waterloo. The inter-disciplinary, cross-faculty nature of WatGAME represents the three major University Faculties of Arts, Engineering, and Mathematics. Research into player experience requires extensive observation, monitoring, and logging of player activities, and extensive compilation and analysis of results. We see this lab as continually busy with focused, carefully designed observations and tests – and with observation of a more free-form nature, facilitating play on or with innovative games in unforeseen ways and for the lab’s equipment and researchers to capture their activities for the formation of additional test designs.
The facility will enable the observation of player behavior immersion into narrative in games, the investigation of existing collaborative gaming contexts (including distributed PC-based games), as well as the design and evaluation of next-generation gaming concepts (e.g., digital tabletop board games and networked games that involve players around a digital tabletop and players on remote PCs). This research is expected to inform future gaming genres and gaming platforms that will effectively balance game immersion and social interactions.
We aim to both produce technological innovation, as well as improve our understanding of social and behavioural ramifications of technologies related to gaming. WatGAME will make a direct contribution to both cultural and economic benefits for Canadians through the distribution of research results into new gaming paradigms and technologies, and leading-edge gaming opportunities.
The Engage Lab is a satellite lab of The Games Institute, located at the University of Waterloo Stratford campus. The Engage Lab is a focal point for Game Institute projects in gamification, most readily defined as the application of game structures, mechanics, and reward systems to traditionally non-game settings.
We based the creation of the Engage Lab on numerous conversations with people in marketing, education, health, and entertainment. All of these conversations revolved around the problem of attaining stronger engagement among audiences. Since games have long excelled at compelling user engagement, offering game elements to audiences provides, if done well, a potential solution to the difficulty of attracting and retaining users.
The Engage Lab recently hosted the 2013 Gamification Conference.
Gamification and the Stratford Festival
The Engage Lab's first project has seen The Games Institute working directly with the Stratford Festival to produce digital media properties designed to spur interest in the festival among high school aged students.
A Multicultural Exploration into Research & Education for Surface Computing (LEIF)
Interactive surface computing systems are increasingly providing more intuitive, natural means for accessing and sharing digital information and media. The LEIF project is a multicultural exploration into research and education for these systems that include multi-touch smartphones and digital wall and tabletop systems. These computing systems introduce new opportunities to simplify individual and collaborative use of computing technology in our everyday work and home lives. For information on different projects, visit the projects page.
The LEIF project formally initiates student and faculty exchange across several Canadian and European institutions which have strong research efforts in this technology field. The project expects to consolidate and expand existing collaborations in order to provide a larger pool of talented students access to expertise and research equipment available beyond their home institutions while being able to obtain credits for the unique international experience.
The project will support 64 student exchange experiences (26 from Canada, 38 from Europe), and 16 faculty exchanges (8 from Canada, 8 from Europe). A new jointly developed graduate-level curriculum specialized in interactive surface computing will be produced from the exchanges.
This interaction between the two countries will enable the acquisition of intercultural competencies, the ability to work in an international team, and will establish social and research networks early in students' careers. To help ensure a smooth operation between cultures, mobilized students will be partnered with a student 'buddy' at the host institute that will act as a personal mentor and allow them to gain connections immediately and throughout their internship
Visit the LEIF website for more information.
Applications as Stories, Natural Sciences & Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) engage grant
Funded by NSERC's Engage program, this project is a collaboration among the Games Institute and industry partner Visdatec. Mark Hancock and Rebecca Langer (UW Engineering), Neil Randall and Amber West (UW English), Mike Kwiecen of Visdatec, and Sue Ganz-Schmitt, author of the children`s book The Princess and the Peanut are combining talents and resources to create a game that helps children understand the deal with their allergies. Results of the research for the game will be presented at a gamification workshop at the 2013 Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI) Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2013 ACM SIGCHI).
Gamifying a Professional Writing Collaboration Environment (3 years)
Current writing resource websites available are static in nature, with very little true interaction between users and those providing the aid. Peer Doc is a living writing resource for students and professionals. Writers can provide mentorship, feedback, and resources. The site fosters communities of writers who share and author resources and establish growing portfolios of work.
This social media for writers mimics real world timely feedback given by professors, instructors, and teaching assistants, and allows students to learn how to improve their writing capabilities. The ultimate goal of Peer Doc is to research and implement a gamification structure for the site to further motivate and engage users.
This project seeks to locate and identify sites of hockey memorabilia with the aim of creating a digital archive of hockey history through photographs, videos, and 3D representations. The final objective of this project is to create a digital archive of fan memorabilia, one in which users themselves can contribute to the growth of the repository by adding and commenting on material. The digitized artifacts can also be incorporated in games, gamification, educational media, and virtual environments.
This research group hopes to answer several questions regarding motivation, collaboration, and the types of items individuals or groups have collected over time. As the project is interdisciplinary in scope, the topics explored include: the stories and memories attached to items; the externalization of memory; as well as more technologically-driven questions, related to the need for digital archives, how to create a user-friendly/user-driven archive; and how might “gamification” play a role in encouraging collectors to contribute.
Students involved: Diane Watson, Kent Aardse, Kirk W Goodlet, Michael Hancock
Post-Doctorate Fellow involved: Jason Hawreliak, Deltcho Valtchanov
Faculty involved: Neil Randall, Ian Milligan, Mark Hancock, Katherine Acheson