Gamers are well aware of cheating. Whether through build-in cheat codes, script editors, or even console commands,they know what it means to cheat; or at least they think they do. Despite the programmed affordances for cheating in the code of many video games, the concept itself remains socially constructed and abstract, resisting precise definitions as to which practices constitute cheating, and which can be understood as “modification”. My paper bridges understandings and performances of cheating acts in video games with concepts of game modification. Drawing from Ian Bogost, Katherine Isbister, and Jesper Juul, I explore the practice of cheating in video games, from the Game Genie through to the emergence of popular video game modification (e.g. The Sims). This practice exists in a liminal state, where some mods are not only socially accepted, but also a developer-encouraged aspect of the gaming experience (e.g. World of Warcraft, Fallout 4), while others are shunned as undesirable, non-immersive, or outright cheating. I explore the boundary at which the alteration of game design or interactivity evolves from a modification to a cheating act, arguing for a reconceptualization of game modification as a socially sanctioned version of cheating. If cheating is defined as any action which goes against the intended design, difficulty, or socially perceived ethos, how far can cheating or modification go before the player is no longer playing the same game? No one plays the same version of Monopoly, yet we continue to call it by the same name.
Stan Ruecker is the Anthony J. Petullo Professor in Design at the University of Illinois. He is currently exploring how design research helps us to understand our preferred futures, how it may necessitate a change to prototyping, and how it can lead us to create physical interfaces for tasks such as analyzing text, modeling time, and designing experience. More at publish.illinois.edu/designconceptslab.
For some time now, the academy has recognized the value of interdisciplinary research. For a certain class of topics, often called after Latour “matters of concern,” a single disciplinary perspective is not sufficient to the task. These topics include many that are of pressing urgency: the global supply of food and potable water; energy; health; education; peace; access to valid and usable information; democracy itself. However, given the need to address these kinds of issues, although interdisciplinary approaches are arguably best, it is also true that not all kinds of interdisciplinary are equally effective. In this presentation, I draw on recent projects in post-conflict zones in Colombia and other work to propose that we should aim, not to have six experts around a table, each contributing their own disciplinary perspective, but instead to reach the point of achieving a form of integrated generative knowledge.
Morgan McGuire is a distinguished scientist at NVIDIA researching technology for creating new experiences in visual computing. He is currently investigating hardware acceleration and new displays for augmented reality, streaming 3D graphics, eSports, and ray tracing. He previously contributed to the Skylanders®, Call of Duty®, Marvel Ultimate Alliance®, and Titan Quest® series of video games series, the Unity game engine, the E Ink display used in the Amazon Kindle®, and the PeakStream GPU computing architecture acquired by Google. He chaired the ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics and Games, the ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering, and the ACM SIGGRAPH / EuroGraphics High Performance Rendering conference, and was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques. Morgan is the author or coauthor of “the bible” of 3D, Computer Graphics: Principles & Practice 3rd Edition, The Graphics Codex, Creating Games, the G3D Innovation Engine, the Markdeep document system, and chapters of several GPU Gems, ShaderX, and GPU Pro volumes. Morgan currently holds adjunct faculty positions at the University of Waterloo and McGill University and was a professor at Williams College for twelve years.
Augmented and virtual reality are new media, extending the space of experiences beyond games, film, and physical interaction. This talk covers the displays, rendering technology, sensors, and interaction designs that make these extended realities possible. I'll identify promising new directions in each and offer personal observations on exemplary current experiences and technology.
Anna F. Peppard is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Brock University. She has studied representations of race, gender, and sexuality within a variety of popular media genres and forms, including action-adventure television, superhero comics, professional wrestling, and sports culture. Her writing has appeared in Canadian Review of American Studies, International Journal of Comic Art, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Journal of Fashion Studies, Feminist Media Histories, Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Studies in Comics, Literary Hub, The Walrus, the anthology Make Ours Marvel: Media Convergence and a Comics Universe, and the forthcoming anthology WWE: Professional Wrestling in the Digital Age. She is a regular contributor to the podcast Three Panel Contrast.
Anna Peppard, Postdoctoral Fellow from Brock University, joins us to discuss the historical controversy and contemporary relevance of superhero sexuality. Dr. Peppard will demonstrate how the simultaneous presence and absence of sexuality within superhero comics, movies, television shows, and video games is central to the superhero genre’s longevity, adaptability, and current popularity, and argue that superheroes possess a special—albeit underutilized—ability to represent diverse and potentially subversive sexual fantasies.
Gustavo Tondello is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo under supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke and Dr. Daniel Vogel, graduate researcher at the HCI Games Group, research lead of the International Gamification Federation, and co-founder of MotiviUX. His research interests include gamification and games for health, wellbeing, and learning, user experience in gamification, and gameful design methods. His work focuses on the design and personalization of gameful applications.
Based on his experiences, Gustavo will discuss how to prepare and conduct graduate studies in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), presenting tips about how to choose topics and plan studies and publications. He will share suggestions on how to plan and carry out experimental studies in HCI, such as how to choose and define research questions, how to select a type of study, and how to document the results and prepare them for publication.
Overall, physiological sensing has been extensively used as a passive technique to record human responses while interacting with videogames and VR applications. However, those signals have been also utilized either to extend the communication pathways for interfacing the nervous system with the virtual environments or to augment the interaction by means of modulating game variables in response to any detected human state (biocybernetic adaptation). For instance, cardio-adaptive exercise games (Exergames) can use real-time heart rate measurements to persuade older players to exert in recommended levels, thus avoiding risks and maximizing exercise benefits. In this talk, we will discuss the use of physiological sensing from a game-user research perspective, moving towards a more active use of it as input into games and VR applications and showing biocybernetic systems that augment exercise, rehab and neuro-rehab activities based on serious games for health.
John Muñoz obtained his PhD in Human-Computer Interaction at NeuroRehabLab in the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute, Portugal. He has been studying the use of physiological signals to foster health benefits while interacting with serious games. He has designed and co-developed a dozen videogames ced with physiological sensors such as brain-computer interfaces (BCI), heart rate monitors, depth cams, and wearable electromyography armbands as well as a set of software tools that to promote the synergy between physiological computing and gaming. His research interests cover physiological computing, biocybernetic adaptation, game user research, serious games for health and virtual reality applications. He will join the Intelligent Technologies for Wellness and Independent Living Lab at the University of Waterloo as a postdoctoral researcher at the end of 2018.
Eugenie Roudaia joined us November 30 to share her research on gameful applications to study and reduce older adults' fear of falling.
Older adults face an increased risk of falls, which often have significant negative consequences, including developing a fear of falling. Older adults with fear of falling often restrict their activities, which leads to social isolation and accelerated cognitive decline. This talk presents our work in designing, creating, and evaluating a video game, CityQuest, aimed at improving balance confidence, spatial cognition, and multisensory processing of older adults at risk of falling. First, I will describe the design and conceptualization of the game, including consultations with end users, survey of the literature, and pilot testing. Next, I will present the design and results of the intervention study we conducted in a group of healthy and fall-prone older adults. The study evaluated the effects of the game on balance confidence, spatial cognition, and perception, as well as subjective aspects of game experience and acceptability of the game as a falls-related intervention. Our results indicate that video games that challenge balance, spatial cognition, and perception are rated as enjoyable and beneficial by older adults and present a powerful tool to improve balance confidence, perception, and cognition in older adults.
Eugenie Roudaia received her PhD in Psychology at McMaster University, where she examined the effects of healthy aging on visual perception with Patrick Bennett and Allison Sekuler. During her postdoctoral fellowship at Trinity College Dublin with Fiona Newell, she worked as part of an FP7-ICT project in which academic and industry partners designed, created, and tested virtual reality and serious games aimed at vulnerable populations. She then held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Université de Montréal with Jocelyn Faubert, examining attention and multisensory processing. Dr. Roudaia is currently a Scientific Associate at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. She is interested in understanding the effects of healthy and pathological aging on perception and cognition and in developing training tools that can improve brain function in older age.
Jonathan presents his work on participatory design in Architecture, focusing on new exciting possibilities for tangible user interfaces in the age of modular prefabricated building design. He introduces the historical importance of physical models for design in architecture, then discusses his recent projects that attempt to develop scaled tangible design controls that integrate physical and digital design environments.
Jonathan is a hybrid designer, strategist, inventor and entrepreneur. With consulting experience in the technology and IOT industries, and a background in Architecture and interdisciplinary practice, his work looks to find new data driven, human centered foundations for architecture & spatial innovation. Jonathan runs the Humanics Lab, a think tank dedicated to human centred approaches to design research, experiential prototyping, and human impact quantification methods in the AEC industry. The Humanics Lab looks for innovation opportunities that improve wellness and happiness for people.
Jason Hawreliak joined us from Brock University on November 13 to talk about his recently published book, "Multimodal Semiotics and Rhetoric in Videogames", and to share his experiences of teaching in a dedicated Game Studies program.
Videogames rely on complex signification systems to communicate information to players, including image, sound, text, haptic feedback, and procedurality. This complexity poses challenges for both theorists and developers. Drawing on a diverse range of game genres, the first half of this talk outlines an analytical framework for tackling the problem of complexity in videogames by way of multimodal semiotics. The second half of the talk looks at some of the challenges and opportunities that come with teaching in a dedicated games program.
Amy Liang is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Arts degree, Psychology major and Human Resource Management minor. She is passionate about second language acquisition and learning about new ideas that could help people with their language learning experiences.
Learning a new language can always be exciting but at times frustrating. But how come we never felt learning our first language so hard when we were a little kid? And as grownups having the better executive functioning, why would this advantage we have in return acted as a barrier in our new language learning experience? This short presentation will be looking at the three basic linguistic levels, discuss how and why was it harder for adults to learn a new language, and how can we use modern technologies like AI and VR to help with the language learning experience.
Dungeons & Dragons is more than a motif in Stranger Things. It acts as a therapeutic tool to forestall trauma. Much like Freud’s analysis of the “Fort-Da” game his grandson played, Dungeon & Dragons is not simply a game, but a practice that establishes mental armatures in anticipation of future trauma. This paper combines game theory concepts like uncertainty, objectives, role-play, and failure with Freud’s theories about trauma, repetition compulsion, and the “Fort-Da” to analyze Dungeon & Dragons’ importance in Stranger Things. This analysis shows that games, specifically Dungeons & Dragons, are an effective tool to anticipate trauma; they provide a safe place to become a hero, and empower players to develop psychic protections in anticipation of future traumatic moments.
This paper focuses on the trauma of a person missing or leaving, as this is the inciting incident of season one and relevant trauma in most characters’ lives, being children of divorced, dead, or emotionally absent parents. Incorporating psychoanalytic theories from Sigmund Freud, Deborah Britzman, E. Ann Kaplan, Cathy Caruth, and Ruth Lays, shows how the game works for the Stranger Things cast as they encounter trauma events through the first season and also how these principles can be applied in readers’ lives. Therefore, this paper functions as both psychoanalysis of Dungeons & Dragons in Stranger Things and displaying its potential for real world applications. The understanding brought to light by Dungeons & Dragons’ role in Stranger Things allows readers to better grasp the need for imagination, role-play, and collaboration as part of trauma foresight.
Dr. Ali Mazalek joined us October 9 from Ryerson University to give a Brown Bag talk on human cognition and computational media. Coupled together, large data sets and computational techniques are transforming our interactions with each other and with information sources across society, gradually reinventing our decision-making and knowledge building processes. Yet as physical beings, we still rely heavily on material and sensory ways of constructing knowledge in the world. A gradual shift in the cognitive sciences toward embodied paradigms of human cognition can inspire us to think about why and how computational media should engage our bodies and minds together. By supporting a close connection between our motor, perceptual and cognitive systems, emerging human-computer interaction techniques can offer powerful opportunities to re-think the way we engage with and construct knowledge in a cyberphysical world. This talk presented ongoing research and prototype systems from the Synaesthetic Media Lab that explore how tangible and embodied interactions can support and enhance creativity, discovery and learning across the physical and digital worlds.
September 27, 2018, Dr. Lewis Chuang visited the GI to share his research on cybernetics and human-machine interactions. Dr. Chuang is a researcher at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.
In this talk, Chuang presented his findings from several studies on how inattentional blindness and inattentional deafness while driving impair our ability to shift attention toward other perceptory cues. In other words, when we're too focused on a task such as driving, we don't notice other stimuli around us.
A lot of the gamers in the audience could relate to being so absorbed in a task that they don't notice what's happening around them. It's a common experience for anyone who has played games that require deep focus and attention - have you ever been so engrossed in a game that you don't hear someone calling your name?
Chuang's research investigates the potential dangers of inattentional blindness and deafness. When you're operating a vehicle, you have to be aware of all of your surroundings and you can't afford to miss important changes in the periphery.
With the final half of his talk, Chuang shifted gears toward self-driving cars. Automated, self-driving cars are a significant concern for Chuang because the new technology allows people to play games, watch movies, or do other work while driving. He posed this question to the audience:
How can we make sure people are paying attention to their surroundings when driving is the distraction?
This question is a work in progress. Perhaps there is a way to gamify the driving experience so that people are engaged with their surroundings. Gamification offers an interesting approach to making sure people can shift attention to the road even when they are engrossed in another task.
Katta Spiel provides an overview of the dominant questionnaires in the field and discuss their conceptualisations of player experiences. While researchers using them are usually aware of their limitations and report them, they are often neglected when it comes to citations and knowledge creations within the field. Hence, Katta will further show how we applied the Game Experience Questionnaire on a Games Research project involving Tetris and where it limited their research. They argue that through critically analysing our tools, we can understand them better, use them more sophistically in the future and move our focus to less researched experiences.
Dr. Adrian Reetz explores that while most current systems rely on emblem-type gestures, Dr. Reetz's implementation is built upon deictic illustrators instead. In addition, he discusses some of the theoretical background that supports his findings, such as the differences between human memory systems and how they influence people's learning capabilities.
Pierson Browne borrows from Deci and Ryan's (2000) Self-Determination Theory, as well as Carter, Gibbs and Harrop's (2012) typology of 'metagaming,' to will explore how players act as interfaces between 'game' and 'metagame,' and what this can tell us about the communicative practices around which game communities cohere.
Nicholas Hobin looks at the representation of animals in action-adventure video games, first broadly, and then in the specific case of Red Dead Redemption.
Jonathan Semple provides an explanation of the mechanics, design, and setting, within Crows of Autumn, and Jonathan also highlights some of the interesting situations, narratives, and decisions the game presents.
Bill Kapralos is an insightful talk where he discusses the application of serious games for medical and surgical education and training and also provides an overview of several existing serious games for a number of medical-based education training.
Melanie Buset is a talk where she considers how virtual reality will progress in terms of socializing within a virtual space.
Dr. Ashley Rose Kelly explores how non-experts are helping to solve some of science’s most complex problems.
Dr. Alvaro Uribe presents two examination scenarios where stereoscopic 3D, haptics and sound combined with VR and game elements play an important role in diagnosing the human eye and the human heart.
Dr. Ben Thompson provides insight into the development of a modified video game approach to the treatment of amblyopia that is currently the subject of two randomized clinical trials and has the potential to change the treatment of amblyopia internationally.
Umair Rehman explains his research, including the design, implementation and evaluation of a novel markerless environment tracking technology for an augmented reality based indoor navigation application, adapted to efficiently operate on a proprietary head-mounted display.
Dr. Jen Whitson considers the effectiveness of gamification to the quantification of everyday life. Her Brown Bag also explains how the quantification in gamification is different from the quantification in both analog spaces and digital non-game spaces.
Dr. Emma Vossen, University of Waterloo alumnus and GI member.