Associate Director, Graduate Studies, Stratford | Associate Professor, Stratford / Communication Arts

Lennart Nacke, PhDLennart Nacke is an Associate 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. He is researching cognitive and emotional elements of player experience in video games, often using physiological measures together with surveys and player interviews. Lennart is also working as a gamification and user experience contractor. Professor Nacke has served on the steering committee of the International Game Developers Association Games User Research Special Interest Group, is the chair of the CHI PLAY conference steering committee since 2014. His publications have won Best Paper Honourable Mention (awarded to the top 5%) and Best Paper Awards (awarded to the 1%) at the premier human-computer interaction conferences CHI 2011 and CSCW 2012. He has published more than 100 scientific papers, which have been cited more than 7,000 times. He strongly believes in understanding users first to build more engaging games and compelling player experiences.

Courses taught

  • DEI 626, (UX) User Experience Fundamentals and User Research, Winter 2017
  • GBDA 402, Cross-Cultural Digital Business 2, Winter 2017
  • DEI 615, New Perspectives: Media History and Analysis, Fall 2015
  • GBDA 401, Cross-Cultural Digital Business, Fall 2015

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. Dr. Nacke works closely together with the International Game Developers Association Special Interest Group on Games User Research and he has served on their steering committee in the past.

Games for human health and fitness: Making sports, physiological exercise, and health applications more playful has become one of Dr. Nacke's recent research focus areas, especially in light of the recent increase in sensor use and the quantified self-movement. As part of this, he has investigated how to foster healthy habits, such as sticking to fitness routines and engaging older adults with technology. His students have developed their own apps, and his research team has worked with companies such as Ayogo Health, Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia, to analyze social health games on Facebook. A recent Engage grant with Vintage Fitness in Toronto supported a project to develop a gamified online fitness service to keep older adults fit and healthy. 

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.

Selected publications

  • Nacke, L.. (2013). An Introduction to Physiological Player Metrics for Evaluating Games. In Seif El-Nasr, M., Drachen, A., & Canossa, A. (Eds.), In Game Analytics (pp. 585-619). Springer London. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4471-4769-5_26

  • Mirza-Babaei, P., Nacke, L. E., Gregory, J., Collins, N., & Fitzpatrick, G.. (2013). How does it play better?: exploring user testing and biometric storyboards in games user research. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1499-1508. DOI: 10.1145/2470654.2466200

  • Daniel Johnson, Lennart E. Nacke, and Peta Wyeth. 2015. All about that Base: Differing Player Experiences in Video Game Genres and the Unique Case of MOBA Games. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2265-2274. DOI=10.1145/2702123.2702447

  • Lennart E. Nacke, Matthias Klauser, and Paul Prescod. 2014. Social player analytics in a Facebook health game. In Proceedings of HCI Korea (HCIK '15). Hanbit Media, Inc., South Korea, 180-187.

  • Dennis L. Kappen and Lennart E. Nacke. 2013. The kaleidoscope of effective gamification: deconstructing gamification in business applications. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Gameful Design, Research, and Applications (Gamification '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 119-122. DOI=10.1145/2583008.2583029

  • 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

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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Phone icon   519-888-4567 ext. 37822 | 38251 | 23025
Office icon  EC1 1309 / ECH 2113A / DMS 2012
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Twitter icon   @acagamic 
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University of Waterloo

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