People in the HCI and Game Science Group


Lennart Nacke
Lennart Nacke, Research Director HCI Games Group

Dr. Lennart E. Nacke is an Assistant Professor for Human-Computer Interaction and Game Science in the Faculty of Business and Information Technology and Research Director of the HCI Games Group at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Canada. He is working on projects related to the social, cognitive and emotional facets of playing games. His goal is to describe, analyse and have computers react to the thoughts and feelings we have when we are fully engaged in playing video games. He uses body sensor technology, for example psychophysiological sensors for brainwaves, heart rate, or muscle tension. Dr. Nacke taps into some of video gaming’s most motivating features to improve our physical fitness and mental wellbeing. His research is funded nationally and internationally and his publications have won best paper honourable mention (awarded to the top 5%) and best paper awards (awarded to the top 1%) at the premier human-computer interaction conferences CHI 2011 and CSCW 2012. He also writes blog articles for the online magazines Gamasutra and Physiological Computing via his personal blog.

Pejman Mirza-Babaei

Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Co-Director HCI Games Group

Pejman is a Games User Researcher an Assistant Professor at UOIT. He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex (UK) where he got his Ph.D. from. His research is currently funded by NSERC and focuses on developing mixed-methods for a better understanding of user experience in engaging entertainment systems. In particular, he is interested in using psychophysiological measurements in combination with other human-computer interaction methods to evaluate the user experience of underdevelopment titles. As a Games User Researcher, he worked at Vertical Slice and Player Research (UK), where he worked on pre- and post-release evaluation of various titles such as: Crysis 2, Split/Second Velocity, Brink, Buzz Quiz World and Sony’s Wonderbook as well as a range of unannounced projects on all platforms.

Graduate Students

João Costa
João Costa, Ph.D. Student, Novel Game Interaction Technologies and Immersive Game Design

João Costa is a Ph.D. student co-supervised by Dr. Nacke with Regan Mandryk from the University of Saskatchewan. He loves video and board games and is currently looking into physiological evaluation and novel sensors for game interaction for pervasive gaming. João holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Lisbon – Faculty of Science – Portugal. He has worked in Poeticon++ Research (EU FP7) European Robotics Project at VisLab – ISR – Portugal, in the Agents Laboratory (LabMAg) at the University of Lisbon – Faculty of Science, as well as in Software Engineering Companies.

Dennis Kappen, Ph.D. Student, Game Design and User Interaction for Older Adults

Dennis L. Kappen (Blog), is supervised by Dr. Nacke. He is an alumnus of the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, is a member of the IDSA and ACIDO. He was part of the design team that won the IDEA 2005 and IDEA 2004 award for products designed for Bloomberg Inc. He has designed numerous consumer products He has a post graduate degree in Design (M.Des.) and a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Production Engineering. Dennis has more than 16 years of hard core product design and development experience with products for Brita Canada, Black and Decker, Perkin Elmer, MDS-Sciex and G-Tech Corporation, amongst others. These design projects have covered various fields including new technology, consumer products, kiosks and internet technology devices, medical products and hand held electronic devices.

Dennis is engaged in consulting projects and is a faculty member in the Industrial Design Degree program at Humber College, Toronto. He is currently pursuing his aspirations of research at UOIT under Dr. Nacke, researching gaming technologies and user interaction as applied to aged and disabled persons in their public spheres.


Rina Wehbe, Master’s Student, EEG Analysis of Gameplay Comprehension

Rina is supervised by Dr. Nacke. She is a recent graduate of York University’s BSc. Honours Psychology program. Her undergraduate honours thesis focused on Autism and Cortical Connectivity. She has gained experience in different labs including the neuroscience lab at Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI) where she was trained in EEG and desk-mounted eye tracking analysis. She also worked in the Fallah-Jordan lab at Centre for Vision Research (CVR) with a head-mounted eye tracker. Lastly, she was also an intern at InteraXon as part of the ADD/ADHD neurofeedback team. She plans to explore the fields of psychology and human-computer interaction (HCI) using EEG as part of our group at UOIT under the supervision of Professor Nacke.


James Robb, Master’s Student, Gamification and Game-Based Learning

James is supervised by Dr. Nacke and a graduate of UOIT’s Game Development and Entrepreneurship program. He has worked as a Unity programmer and game designer before starting his graduate studies. He is interested in gamification, exergaming, and user interface design in games.


Raphaël Marczak, External Ph.D. Student at University of Waikato, Signal Processing to Support Player Experience Assessment

Raphaël is co-supervised by Dr. Nacke with Gareth Schott at the University of Waikato and Frans Mäyrä from University of Tampere.
Raphaël is an external Ph.D. student working at The University of Waikato (New Zealand). He is developing a model for video game classification in New Zealand by identifying which quantitative data sets, from psychophysiological data to gameplay metrics can be used to enhance gameplay experience assessment. He is working on a new methodology to gather gameplay metrics through analyzing video and audio feedback streams to process any commercially available game. Finally, to help the correlation with other (qualitative) approaches, he is developing tools to collate the different results in a video composed of synchronized data (e.g., psychophysiological responses, gameplay metrics, gameplay footage, player facial capture). Before this project, Raphaël worked at LaBRI on the VIRAGE project. He developed a software system in collaboration with scientists and artists in the area of the performing arts. He also developed mobile phone games when he was working for BeTomorrow, a videogame company based in Bordeaux.


Jasper van Vught, External Ph.D. Student at University of Waikato, Videogame Classification

Jasper is co-supervised by Dr. Nacke with Gareth Schott at the University of Waikato and Frans Mäyrä from University of Tampere.
Jasper works within the Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden grant project “Videogame Classification: Measuring Player Experience”. His research is focusing on the theoretical aspects of player suspense and experience together with diary studies of young video game players in New Zealand.This will support a study with New Zealand kids aged between 13 and 16 that will play and evaluate R16-rated games. His Ph.D. project is directly linked to that of Raphaël. They are working closely together to continuously combine both quantitative and qualitative methods, and enhance the understanding of the player’s experience through a multi-disciplinary approach.


Pedro Nogueira, External Ph.D. Student at University of Porto, Portugal

Pedro is co-supervised by Dr. Nacke with Eugénio Oliveira, Rui Rodrigues, University of Porto, and Mike Ambinder from Valve Corporation.
Before starting his Ph.D. studies, Pedro has worked in various European research projects. His work has ranged from conceptualizing and prototyping usable biometric monitoring systems for high-risk emergency scenarios to developing intelligent biomedical image annotation algorithms for drug research. His current work focuses on the study of how immersion is affected by emotional patterns and how these can be enforced to produce more immersive affective gaming experiences. To this end he is working on methods to determine players’ reactions to specific game events, which can be collated into time-evolving, self-adapting affective reaction profiles. His final goal is to use these user-independent profiles to provide a biofeedback loop with the necessary information on how each player would most likely react to each event in their current emotional state, thus enabling it to plan future interactions and effectively implement an automatic, data-driven regulation of their affective experience.

Undergraduate Students

Sedona Parnham, Lab Artist

Sedona Parnham has graduated from UOIT studying Game Development and Entrepreneurship. She is working as a summer student and resident artists in the GAMER Lab.


Mirza Beig, Web and Social Media Content Developer

Mirza Beig (@TheMirzaBeig) has finished his second undergraduate year at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) game development and entrepreneurship program. He specialises in C/C++ programming with additional experience in art, design, and music for games. Currently, Mirza is working as a web and social media content developer for the HCI Games group. He has worked for us before in Summer 2012 as a physiological programming assistant, building tools and drivers for physiological computing devices. He has also successfully worked on a procedural gaming framework (filtering sound and shaders based on different input devices) called Antimatter and won awards for his second-year game project Werebear. Details of his work are available on his blog and Youtube channel.


Mike Schäkermann, Lab Intern

Mike has a background in physiological sensors, medicine and game development. He is working with Rina on a project about inserting real-time markers into EEG data for ERP analysis.

Jens Johannsmeier, Lab Intern

Jens is a student in the Cognitive Science program of the University of Osnabrück, Germany. During his stay at the GAMER lab, he is working on creating a gamified version of a classic experiment investigated in the areas of Cognitive and Mathematical Psychology. He also supports his colleagues’ research by providing statistical analyses of their data. His true interest, however, lies with more sophisticated methods of leveraging data such as Bayesian Data Analysis and Machine Learning, which he hopes to apply to the data he will gather from his experiment-game once it is ready. Jens currently works on his “game” in Unity, although he enjoys scripting in R and Matlab the most.

Albert “Eddie” Shearer, Lab Man of Mystery

Eddie Shearer has graduated from UOIT studying Game Development and Entrepreneurship. He is working as a summer student in the GAMER Lab. Eddie triples as an artist; a Unity programmer; and a GAMER Lab man of mystery, quietly providing graphics, models, and C# coding to various projects within the lab. While his official title is ‘Programmer’, Eddie’s main interests and specialization resides in the field of art, where he has a knack for adding that ultimate level of polish to game projects. Eddie is always working on something new in the lab – such as prototyping a Unity shooter game for diegetic health research and designing/testing Mario levels – and works diligently towards helping out his fellow coworkers with their research.

Amanda Leo, Lab Assistant

Amanda just completed her first year in Kinesiology – Exercise Science Stream at UOIT. She enjoys video games, writing and perusing new knowledge and experiences. Currently she is in the Graduate Gaming Lab aiding the students with their studies. She acts as a participant, one who helps run the tests, a different perspective on the studies and games/prototypes developed and as a resource for the students that are doing research on topics that involve human movement and gamification. Amanda has helped to run many studies already and is working with her professors in creating a cycle-shoot game for her program. She is also helping generate a paper for CAHI on the gamification of bike jousting and is in charge of updating the websites news section every week.

Dario van Hout, Artist

Dario was an artist working for the HCI Games group.

John Gregory, Capstone Project: Magic Sensor Game

John Gregory is studying Game Development and Entrepreneurship at UOIT. He is interested in programming and game design using the Unity game engine. As a summer research assistant, John is working on the biometric storyboard software. He designed a cross-platform biometric storyboard tool that is able to process input from designers, users, and game user researchers to create biometric storyboards. The tool allows the combination of self-report data with physiological data, such as electrodermal response and electromyography. John is also working on the next indie hit game codenamed “Matter of Seconds”, developed entirely in Unity. His focus is to create a simple and easy-to-use biometric storyboard tool and Unity games to provide a better understanding of the user data that has been gathered.

Daniel Stepchenko, Capstone Project: Magic Sensor Game

Daniel Stepchenko is a third year student at UOIT studying Game Development and Entrepreneurship. Mainly, he is focusing on programming but has interests in other fields of game development such as art and design. Dan is working as a summer research assistant with physiological data, sensors, fitness tools and games.

Matthias Klauser, Ph.D. Student, Winter 2012

Matthias worked on Design and Analytics of Games for Health for his Ph.D. project under supervision of Professor Nacke. Before starting his Ph.D. at UOIT, Matthias was working as a research assistant at the University of Duisburg. He has been involved in several research projects in the Social & Playful Interaction Group (SPI) at the interactive Systems and interaction design chair of the University of Duisburg-Essen. He has also worked in the European research project FOSIBLE (FOstering Social Interaction for a Better Live of the Elderly). Along with his research experience he was in close contact to game development companies through the Game Technology Competence Center (GTCC.NRW) project – which is part of the Game Development Initiative Ruhr. Within his projects and his two years work for 10Tacle-Mobile, he has gained experience in research and industrial game development and analysis. At UOIT, his interests were focused the integration of innovative physical interfaces into digital games and analyzing performance with visualizing and analyzing game metrics and analytics.

Monika Brumar, Web Developer

Monika (@Monisauruscow) is studying Game Development and Entrepreneurship at UOIT. She just finished her second year here at UOIT and works on making a web-based teaching tool this summer. Her tool extracts tweets with a specific hashtag and organizes them into tables containing the students in the class. Students’ blog links are also extracted from their tweets and saved in a table. There is a web interface that allows the Professor or Teaching Assistant to easily mark and edit entries as well as a front end that allows students to see their progress. The tool also displays statistics in graphs which make it easier for the users to see trends. In the end this teaching tool will hopefully be useful to anyone who requires their students to use Twitter and/or Blog posts to complete assignments. Her framework makes extensive use of jQuery, Twitter’s bootstrap, and D3 visualizations.

Albert Bushara, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Summer 2012

Albert is studying Game Development and Entrepreneurship at UOIT. He was supporting Monika for the social media teaching innovation project.

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