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Student Members

Ahmad Salam Alrefai

Computer Science

Ahmad Salam Alrefai is a PhD candidate working with Dr. Chrysanne Di Marco in the area of Games for Health. He is interested in designing games to help in mental health, and to improve the human well being. Studying the neurobiological factor in order to measure the effectiveness of the games is of great interest to his research direction.

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Becky Anderson

English Language and Literature

Becky Anderson, BA (English; French Studies, Waterloo), MA (Literary Studies, Waterloo) is a third-year PhD Candidate at UWaterloo, where she's also pursuing a concurrent Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Science. She's the recipient of the Provost Doctoral Entrance Award (2015-2016), a Jack Gray Fellowship (2016-2017), and a President's Graduate Scholarship (2017-2018).

Karina Arrambide

Systems Design Engineering

Karina is a Ph.D. student pursuing a degree in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, under the supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke. She holds an MSc in Information Technology with Business and Management from the University of Sussex in the UK, and a BSc in Information Technology from the University of Monterrey in Mexico. Her main interests include understanding player's behaviors and emotions by applying diverse games user research methodologies, specifically biometrics such as electromyography and galvanic skin response.

Maria Aufheimer

Institute of Media Informatics, Ulm University, Germany

Maria is a Media Informatics student from Ulm University, Germany. Besides her studies, she is interested in researching the effects of non-player character design on players. As a visiting student, her goal is to develop her skills by working with experienced researchers.

Marisa Benjamin

English

Marisa Benjamin completed a BA Honours Arts and Business Co-op, Psychology Major, English Minor at the University of Waterloo with Dean’s List acknowledgement. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Rhetoric and Communication Design at UWaterloo. Marisa is passionate about Indigenous rights activism and Canadian mental health policy. Other research interests include queer theory, gender studies, and popular culture studies.

Jonathan Baltrusaitis

English

I am a storytelling machine from a film and television background. The XDM Masters program is rapidly expanding my narrative toolkit and I am interested in the narrative possibilities of games.

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Tyler Black

English Language and Literature

Tyler is an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, completing a Bachelor of Arts in English, majoring in Rhetoric, Media and Professional Communication, with Intensive English and Digital Media Studies specializations.

Marcela Bomfim

Applied Health Sciences

Marcela is a PhD Student in the School of Public Health and Health Systems (AHS), working under the supervision of Dr James Wallace. She holds a BSc in Nutrition and in Systems Analysis and an MSc in Computer Science with specialization in Human-Computer Interaction. Her research focuses on exploring gameful design methods and strategies to improve food literacy and healthy dietary behaviours.

Betsy Brey

Betsy Brey

English Language and Literature

Betsy Brey (BA and MA, University of Minnesota Duluth) is a PhD candidate in the English Language and Literature department, specializing in game studies. Her research focuses on the narratological impacts of game mechanics. In particular, she researches mechanics and storytelling in metagames, virtual reality, and role-playing games.

Pierson Browne

Sociology and Legal Studies

Pierson Browne is a second-year Ph.D. student who has arrived in the Games Institute by way of Concordia University’s M.A. Media Studies program, during which he was an active contributor in two games research institutions: the mLab and the Centre for Technoculture, Art, and Games. Pierson’s history as an aficionado of competitive card games and competitive digital strategy games has guided his academic interest towards metagames—the compelling product of collisions between competitiveness and sociality in the context of play.

Justin Carpenter

English Language and Literature

Justin Carpenter, BA (Calgary), MA (Leeds), is a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, focusing on aesthetics, philosophy of technology, and new media art.

Nathan Chan

Nanotechnology Engineering

Nathan was an undergraduate Nanotechnology Engineering student. He helped run the Game Development Club (GDC), and is working to develop his first tabletop game, Humanity.

Shawn DeSouza-Coelho

Shawn DeSouza-Coelho

Experimental Digital Media

Shawn DeSouza-Coelho is a writer, scholar, and award-winning actor based in Toronto. He holds a BA (Dramatic Arts) and MA (English) from the University of Waterloo, the latter of which allowed him to explore the intersections between narrative and interaction design, particularly in video games. His second book, Whenever You’re Ready (May 2018, ECW Press) details the life and career of Nora Polley (currently the Stratford Festival’s longest serving employee at 54 years) and is the first biography of a stage manager ever published. Believing that every story possesses an ideal medium, Shawn is currently writing and illustrating his third book, 90 Days, which is a graphic novel centering on recovery from sex and pornography addiction. Shawn has also authored and co-authored numerous scholarly publications over the years and is currently Research Advisor at the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo.

Will Fast

Will Fast

English Language and Literature

Will is a PhD candidate who studies modern videogame-based iterations of Victorian England.  He is interested in better understanding historical games' abilities to productively revise and recreate elements of the past.  His current research investigates the representation of women in neo-Victorian games and their basis in the fiction of the nineteenth century.

Ethan Fischer

Psychology

Ethan is an undergraduate student in the psychology Department at the University of Waterloo. He is currently studying how gamers' verbal reports of their emotions during game play relates to various aspects of their subjective emotional experiences.

Alex Fleck

Alex Fleck

English Language and Literature

Alex Fleck is a Masters student in the XDM stream interested in the application of new media (games) criticism to other forms. In particular, he is interested in the transposition of literary works into other media.

Brian Freiter

Arts

Brian is a 4th year English student preparing to start his grad studies at UW in Experimental Digital Media Studies (XDM). He is particularly interested in learning more about the rhetoric and language in developing field of Games User Research.

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Kenny Fung

Business

Kenny is a recent MBA graduate at Wilfrid Laurier University and has a B.A. Honours Psychology from the University of Waterloo. He is currently interested in the field of computer science and is actively contributing to various projects at the HCI Games Group.

Michael Hancock

Michael Hancock

English Language and Literature

Dr. Michael Hancock is a sessional instructor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. His dissertation was on the history of textual representation in videogames, a study which ranges from videogame instruction manuals to the 1989 Amiga game It Came From the Desert. He is interested in three areas of game studies: the appearance of gamic structures in other media, the historical shifts in game design and interpretation, and the formal aspects of video games, as they present themselves to the players. He’s also interested in social applications of digital media in general, and how societies adapt to these new technologies.

John Harris

John Harris

Computer Science

John Harris is a PhD student in Computer Science (BAsc. Mechatronics Engineering, UWaterloo; MSc Computer Science, UCalgary). His research focuses on the design and development of Strong Asymmetry in games as a means of promoting inclusiveness and getting more kinds of people playing together.

Nicholas Hobin

Nicholas Hobin

English Language and Literature

Nicholas Hobin, BA (King's University College at WU) and MA (University of Waterloo), is a first-year PhD student curious about video games, narratology, Lovecraftian horror, and Shakespeare.

Leila Homaeian

Leila Homaeian

Systems Design Engineering

Leila is a PhD student in Systems Design Engineering. She studies large interactive surfaces, such as wall displays and digital tabletops, and how to support co-located collaboration around them. Leila received her MSc. degree in Software Engineering from the University of Alberta.

Kelly Hornung

Kelly Hornung

School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability

Kelly was in the process of finishing her undergraduate degree in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, with a minor in Theatre & Performance.

Marta Jacyla

Science and Business

Marta is in her third year of studying Science and Business with a specialization in Biotechnology. She aspires to combine her knowledge of both fields in the future.  Marta has been with the Games Institute since the Fall 2017 term, and  is returning to resume her co-op role as an Operations Assistant in Spring 2018.  

At the Games Institute, Marta is involved with a wide variety of things, including: day-to-day operations of the GI space, answering general inquiries, space booking, event planning, social media management, web development, and site maintenance.

Andrew Jian-Lan Cen

Systems Design Engineering

Andrew will be starting his Masters of Systems Design Engineering this fall. Andrew has an undergraduate degree in Speech Communication and was an undergraduate researcher with HCI Games. Andrew is an emerging digital media designer. His primary focuses in digital design revolve around photography and videography. Andrew also has experience in the Adobe suites including; Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom. He also has taken an interest in game development and game design, having played many games in his past time.

Arda Kizilcay

Digital Art Communication

Arda is a fourth year Liberal Arts student with a passion for design in digital media. He is currently in pursuit of videography as his specialization going forward. 

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Cayley MacArthur

Systems Design Engineering

Cayley MacArthur, BKI (Knowledge Integration, Waterloo), MA (English & Systems Design Engineering, Waterloo), is a PhD student in Systems Design Engineering.

Lindsay Meaning

English Language and Literature

Lindsay Meaning is a PhD candidate in the department of English. Her research interests include representations and reproductions of structural violence in video games, as well as 19th century women's writing.

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Kateryna Morayko

Systems Design Engineering

Kateryna Morayko is pursuing a masters in systems design engineering through the SWaGUR program under the supervision of Dr.Mark Hancock. She is interested in implementing psychology theories and methods into game experience research, and to study gameplay behaviour in various contexts (such as VR).

Diana Moreno Ojeda

English Language and Literature

Diana has a strong research focus on discourse analysis and social semiotics. Her MA Thesis, entitled "Appraisal Theory in the Identification of the Discursive Choices at Work Behind the Positioning of Powerful Women in Public Discourse," was strongly influenced by the work of Norman Fairclough, P.R.R. White and Ronald Wardhaugh.

Amber O'Brien

English Language and Literature

Amber O’Brien is pursuing a Masters in Literary Studies. Her main area of interest is examining how narratives in science fiction and fantasy texts work to challenge and alter gender ideologies in Western societies.

Matthew Perks

Sociology

Matthew Perks is a Ph.D. student (B.A and M.A. Concordia University) focusing on game culture and industry. His research interests broadly cover meta-game development, online community formation, monetization strategies, e-sports, and content creators. His dissertation research focuses on the co-creation of what is referred to as the meta-game within competitive and team-based online games – specifically in the role of content creators and user analytics.

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Michelle Poon

Speech Communication and Peace and Conflict Studies

Michelle is a University of Waterloo undergraduate studying Joint Honours in SPCOM and PACS with a minor in Digital Arts Communication. She is currently working under the supervision of Dr. Lennart E. Nacke in contributing to UX/UI design projects within the HCI Games Group. She is interested in user research and interactions between humans and computers.

Toben Racicot

Rhetoric and Communications Design

Toben Racicot is usually busy writing and lettering comic books. But he does pause to DM games of Dungeons and Dragons and roll dice to kill zombies in Zombicide Green Horde. Inspired by Fire Emblem and Diablo 2, Toben's research into permadeath in video games looks at how players respond to having only one chance to get things right in games. He also loves Popeye's Cajun Chicken, sushi, and his wife.

Jenn Rickert

English Language and Literature

My research interests involve gender, hierarchy, and online gaming communities, specifically surrounding MMO/online games like World of Warcraft. I am also interested more broadly in technology and culture, namely, how culture and people shape technology (through video games), and in turn how technology (video games) shape people and culture. 

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Katja Rogers

Computer Science

Katja Rogers is a Computer Science PhD student from the Institute of Media Informatics at Ulm University, Germany. As a visiting researcher within Dr. Lennart Nacke's research group, her current project at the GI focuses on the effects of audio on player experience in a VR horror game.

Brian Schram

Sociology

Brian is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology & Legal Studies. His  research looks at the intersection between surveillance and new media. Specifically, he is interested in how software has come to structure identity politics, labour practices, and activism both online and off.  

Katta Spiel

Drama & Speech Communication

Katta has a background in Cultural Studies and Computer Science from Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, with theses concerning male identity in Italian Western, experiences of blind players in text-based games and eye movements in Tetris. Since 2014, Katta is part of the HCI group at TU Wien conducting work on the experiences of marginalised people. More concretely, Katta's PhD centres on autistic children's experiences with technologies. When it comes to games, Katta is interested in the quirky and unusual, the fringe experiences which can be overlooked by traditional methods. Other research interests include Critical Disability Studies, Gender Studies and Philosophy of Science. Katta plays Roller Derby and can be found knitting in most meetings.

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Gustavo Tondello

Computer Science

Gustavo Tondello is a Ph.D. student at the University of Waterloo under supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke and Dr. Daniel Vogel and researcher at the HCI Games Group and the Games Institute. His main interests include gamification and games for health and learning.

Joseph Tu

Fine Arts

Joseph is a previous game tester for: Dota2 (Valve), Maplestory (Nexon), Blade&Soul (Ncsoft) and GunZ : The Duel(Mailet). He has immense interests in UX and UI interfaces. With his background in Digital Arts Communication (DAC), he seeks to explore the different dimensions of wireframes and paper prototypes that can be useful in game designs.

Joseph is deeply involved with the Duke of Edinburgh program (Gold Status), and enjoys shooting digital cinematography on his free time.

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Diane Watson

Computer Science

Diane Watson is a PhD Candidate in the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Her focus is on Gamification, in particular, how positive behaviours can be encouraged through games.

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Séamas Weech

Kinesiology

Séamas received his PhD from Queen's University, Kingston, in the area of Psychology (Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science). His postdoctoral research focuses on understanding the factors that relate to cyber sickness in virtual reality (VR).

Rina Wehbe

Rina Wehbe

Computer Science

Rina R. Wehbe is working towards a Ph.D. Computer Science, Cheriton School of Computer Science. Her affiliations include HCI Games Group, and the Games Institute.  

Amber West

English Language and Literature

Amberly H. West, (BA and MA University of Waterloo) researches games for health. Her secondary research areas include adaptations, rhetoric, and new media studies. Under the supervision of Dr. Neil Randall and Dr. Mark Hancock, she and Rebecca Langer (Computer Science) have been working on a multi-disciplinary research project for which the team researched, designed, and developed a prototype of a game that teaches children to identify and manage food allergies.

Caroline Wong

Psychology

Caroline Wong has joined The Games Institute as a research assistant for her Spring 2017 co-op and will be under the supervision of the Associate Director, Dr. Mark Hancock.

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John Yoon

English Language and Literature

John (BA Honors English, Alberta), MA (Literary Studies, Waterloo) is a first year PhD candidate at Waterloo. His research interests include narratology, the narrative of sports, eSports, online gaming culture, and digital media studies. His dissertation will examine the narrative structure of traditional sporting broadcasts and of online eSports leagues.

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Liu Zhe

Computer Science

Liu Zhe is a master's student co-supervised by Professor James Wallace from School of Public Health and Professor Daniel Vogel from School of Computer Science. Her current research is studying about people's fatigue when interacting with touch-sensitive display walls.

Alexandre Zima

English

Alexandre Zima is a candidate for his Masters in English, with his research focusing on "toxic rhetoric," the rhetoric of terrorism, trolling, conspiracism, and pseudoscience.

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