Lennart Nacke, PhD

Associate Director, Graduate Studies and Professor
Lennart Nacke, PhD

Lennart Nacke is a full Professor and the Director of the HCI Games Group at the University of Waterloo’s Games Institute. Professor Nacke teaches User Experience, Human-Computer Interaction, and Game Design at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Nacke is a pioneer in games, gamification, and user experience.

As Professor of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in Games at University of Waterloo, he explores how user experience of video and exercise games can drive engagement, influence player psychology, and change human behaviours. Over the past 15 years, he has published more than 200 academic papers and a best-selling book on Games User Research.

A sought-after keynote speaker and consultant, Dr. Nacke has advised organizations worldwide on effective gamification strategies. He was recognized among the top 10 HCI scholars of the last decade and the top 2% of scientists worldwide. His groundbreaking work continues to shape how we understand and apply games research and gamification.

His approach to life is to keep it playful and to socialize over karaoke at conferences. You can find him writing daily on LinkedInX, Threads, and his game UX newsletter and personal website.


  • DEI 626, (UX) User Experience Fundamentals and User Research, since Winter 2017
  • GBDA 310, Advanced User Experience Design & Research, Fall 2023
  • DAC 309, User Experience Design, Fall 2023
  • DAC 305, Design and User Experience of Interactive Games, Fall 2018 - 2022
  • DAC 204, Introduction to Game Design, Fall 2015 - 2022

Research and Teaching Interests

Gamification: Involves the use of game design principles in systems that primarily support non-game tasks, with the goal of increasing fun, engagement and motivation. Dr. Nacke has been involved in the definition of the term and leading the academic movement in workshop and conference settings. His students have created several games that were deployed outside of gaming contexts, such as finance, social networks, and fitness.

Games user research: Developing new methods and tools for improving player testing and user research in games and entertainment systems. We work closely together with the International Game Developers Association Special Interest Group on Games User Research.

Games for human health, wellbeing, and fitness: We have recently begun to focus on making sports, physiological exercise, health, and wellbeing applications more playful, especially in light of the recent increase in sensor use and the quantified self movement.

HCI for games: Finding novel sensors and interaction paradigms that drive the manner in which we interact with computers in a meaningful and engaging way.

Affective gaming: Research using psychophysiological analysis and physiological sensors to track player sentiments when gauging engagement, cognition and player emotions.

Social relationship-building games: Developing games and installations that can be used in public spaces to build relationships and foster social interaction in groups.

VR/XR: Finding novel sensors and interaction paradigms that drive the manner in which we interact with computers in a meaningful and engaging way in virtual reality.

Select Publications

  • Nacke, Lennart E. and Deterding, C. Sebastian (2017) Editorial: The maturing of gamification research. Computers in Human Behaviour. 450–454. ISSN 0747-563 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.062

  • Drachen, Anders, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, and Lennart E. Nacke, eds. Games user research. Oxford University Press, 2018.

  • Gustavo F. Tondello, Rina R. Wehbe, Lisa Diamond, Marc Busch, Andrzej Marczewski, and Lennart E. Nacke. 2016. The Gamification User Types Hexad Scale. In Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY '16). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 229–243. https://doi.org/10.1145/2967934.2968082

  • Katja Rogers, Sukran Karaosmanoglu, Maximilian Altmeyer, Ally Suarez, and Lennart E. Nacke. 2022. Much Realistic, Such Wow! A Systematic Literature Review of Realism in Digital Games. In Proceedings of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 190, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1145/3491102.3501875

  • Abeele, Vero Vanden, Katta Spiel, Lennart Nacke, Daniel Johnson, and Kathrin Gerling. "Development and validation of the player experience inventory: A scale to measure player experiences at the level of functional and psychosocial consequences." International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 135 (2020): 102370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2019.102370

  • Sebastian Deterding, Dan Dixon, Rilla Khaled, and Lennart Nacke. 2011. From game design elements to gamefulness: defining "gamification". In Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments (MindTrek '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 9-15. DOI=10.1145/2181037.2181040 https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/2181037.2181040

Awards and honours

  • Recognition of Service Award from Chairing CHI PLAY, 2014
  • Recognition of Service Award from Games and Entertainment Community Spotlight at CHI, 2014
  • Best Programming Award at Ubisoft Academia Competition, 2014 (Team Clan Combat Supervisor)
  • Best Marketing Plan Award at Ubisoft Academia Competition, 2013 (Team Euphoria Supervisor)
  • Visiting Lecturer at University of Sussex (2012 - 2013)
  • CSCW 2012 Best Paper (Top 1% of peer-reviewed accepted publications)

Connect with Lennart

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   519-888-4567 ext. 37822

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EC1 1309 (Games Institute) / DMS 3012

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  hcigames.com | acagamic.com

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