Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

UofA Exchange with SFU (Shannon Lucky)

In late February this year I was graciously hosted by the SFU-SIAT PLAYPR group for a two day collaborative working exchange at the SFU Surrey campus.  Vicki Moulder organized a meeting at SFU-SIAT on Wednesday morning with Carmen Neustaedter and Ron Wakkary where we discussed potential collaborations involving the location based game research taking place at both of our campuses. This meeting resulted in a plan to undertake a group assessment of the game platforms that have been developed at U Alberta, SFU, and Carlton University.

The second day focused on refining our game platform assessment project. We plan to run a workshop at the GRAND 2013 conference in Toronto that would have the teams from the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University, and Carleton University build history themed location based games using the platforms developed at each other’s universities. Each team will be given access to documentation and developer access to one of the game development platforms, a package of historical content relevant to the location of the conference – namely downtown Toronto- and one hour to build a small, playable segment of a historical location based game. The teams would then playtest each other’s games and give feedback on both the design and play experience.

We hope to use the results of our game platform assessment to pursue more expansive collaborative location based game projects in the future. We realized that one of the common thematic threads in our game research is location based games that have a historical context or narrative. These games take a player through a unique Canadian location and use historical content and resources as a main element of the game narrative and/or player experience. The Canadian landscape is a central element in many artistic representations of our national and local identities which we felt could serve as the basis for a successful location based game project. We discussed the possibility of creating a location based game or game series that would have a united design concept and could be played in many locations across Canada based on artistic representations of national identity such as the work of the Group of Seven. The theme of the body in the landscape is a promising area to explore through the lens of location based gaming and we hope it will stretch the potential of our game platforms beyond simple scavenger hunt mechanics. We will discuss this plan in more depth following the platform assessment project and in person at the GRAND conference in May 2013.

I gave a well-attended talk on the afternoon of the second day at SIAT about the PLAY-PR research taking place at the University of Alberta. I presented the progression of our games research over the past three years and several of the location based games we have built at the UofA. I also elaborated on areas we would like to focus on in the future such as more in-depth assessment of game design projects, increasing player quotas for games tested ‘in the wild’, and overcoming technical issues for smartphone-based games where connectivity to data and GPS signals is unreliable. We had a great discussion about designing for failure of data connectivity and finding new types of game mechanics for location based games beyond scavenger hunt modes of play.

I would like to thank Vicki Moulder, Ron Wakkary, Carman Neustaedter, and everyone I met at SIAT for their generosity with their time and expertise. This exchange was a great opportunity to see the all the work being done at SIAT and to get a jump start on plans for future collaborative projects within the PLAY-PR network.

Pure Data Workshop

Scott Smallwood led a workshop on Pure Data on February 13th, 2013. Below are URLs to some of the works they looked at, as well as help sites and other relevant links.

Examples of work URLs:



Onyx Ashanti:

Ian Campbell:


Johann Diedrick:

Hans Christoph Steiner:

Final projects from Emily Carr:

Help URLs:


Data Visualization library:

Re-Playing Japan Symposium

Replaying Japan: A one day symposium on Japanese game culture and industry

Replaying Japan is a one day symposium on Japanese game culture, game studies and the gaming industry that will bring together researchers from Japan and Canada on August 22nd, 2012 at the University of Alberta to talk about the challenges and opportunities in cross-cultural study of game culture with a particular focus on university/industry interaction. The symposium will run from 9:15am – 5:00 pm in Humanities Centre L-2, University of Alberta campus. Anyone interested in game studies and/or Japanese popular culture is welcome.

Where: Humanities Centre L-2, University of Alberta
When: August 22nd, 9:15am till 5pm
Who: Speakers include:
  • Koichi Hosoi, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Kazufumi Fukuda, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Kevin Kee, Brock University, St. Catharines ON, Canada
  • Mia Consalvo, Concordia University, Montreal QC, Canada
  • Akinori Nakamura, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Geoffrey Rockwell, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada
  • Mitsuyuki Inaba, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan
  • Sean Gouglas, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Canada

The program of talks can be found here: Re-Playing Japan Symposium Program

Cost: None!

Replaying Japan is supported by GRAND (, the Prince Takamado Japan Centre, the Canadian Institute for Research Computing in the Arts, and the China Institute

Cobble Cards

Cobble Cards is a simple card game that can be used by small teams within a workshop or classroom to generate and discuss rough game concepts in a short period of time. This ideation game was created by Patrick von Hauff with the assistance of David Holmes at the University of Alberta with support from the GRAND-NCE research community.

The game consists of a deck of “constraint cards,” bearing words and short phrases that teams must incorporate into the development of a game concept. There are three main categories of constraints: Who, Where/When and Wild cards. Additional cards may be added to the deck as desired.

The game has three phases:

  1. Idea Generation
  2. Prototyping
  3. Discussion of Prototypes.

In our experience, a game may require between 90 minutes to 3 hours to complete, depending on the time provided for each phase.

You can create your own deck of Cobble Cards for any ideation goal at this website:

Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback in the comments.

There are three main categories.

A sample hand.

Players receive two cards from each category.

Players must interpret the meaning of the “phrase” created by the cards.

Players may prototype their game concept to share with others.

CatHETR @ InSight: Visualizing Health Humanities

CatHETR (serious gaming for health) was recently presented at InSight: Visualizing Health Humanities exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery at the University of Alberta. The multidisciplinary exhibition brought together a range of visual, sound and performance explorations which bridge medicine, health sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences under one roof at the Fine Arts Building Gallery.

CatHETR explores how video games might be used in health education to support communication and collaboration skills that can help improve patient safety. In this exhibition, we showcase a first-person ‘serious game’ in which the student player accompanies a physician on his rounds through a virtual hospital ward.

From the InSight page about CatHETR:

The “CatHETR” project explores how video games might be used in health education to support communication and collaboration skills that can help improve patients’ safety. In this exhibition, we showcase a first-person ‘serious game’ in which the student player accompanies a physician on his rounds through a virtual hospital ward. On that journey, the player interacts with the physician, hospital staff and patients, testing the player’s ability to communicate patient information. In each interaction, the player is presented with a menu of dialogue options from which to select the best response. Determining the correct course of action is far from obvious, however. Designed together with practicing health professionals, the scenarios are realistic, pertinent and challenging. Players must draw on a variety of sources to make correct decisions, including direct information provided by medical staff and ambient cues in the environment as well as their own prior knowledge. At the end of the game, players are presented with a summary of their decisions with feedback to encourage individual reflection and discussion. We assessed the game with 14 prelicensure students from nursing, medicine, nutrition, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, recreational therapy and respiratory therapy. The participants were observed playing the game and afterwards were asked to complete a questionnaire on their perception of the game’s effectiveness for skill-building and learning. Overall, the participants found the game to be an enjoyable and effective way to learn and expressed a high interest in playing such games as part of their learning. We are now seeking collaborators to refine the prototype for use in classrooms.

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