Title: Evaluating Gameplay Experience: Beyond Questionnaires

Speaker: Professor Effie Lai-Chong Law

Abstract:  Gameplay experiences are typically evaluated with questionnaires, given the introspective nature of perceptions and responses in relation to game-based interactions.  A plethora of such questionnaires, standardized as well as home-grown, has been developed in the last fifteen years.  While some proved robust with excellent psychometric properties, some entail more systematic scrutiny to ensure their power as a scientific tool. In this talk, I will present one example of the former and another of the latter to reflect on their implications for the game research community.  Nonetheless, using questionnaire as a gameplay experience evaluation method, whilst flexible and efficient, has limitations. Complementing subjective self-reported data with objective psycho-physiological ones is deemed desirable or even essential for specific target groups of specific games in specific contexts. To illustrate this concept, I will report an empirical study where we have evaluated young children’s cognitive strategies when playing with a tablet-based educational game with the eye tracking methodology and their emotional responses with video analysis. In fact, going beyond questionnaires has even stronger relevance to the burgeoning eXtended Reality (XR) games. I will explore the potential of automatic multisensory emotion analysis, thanks to the advances of machine learning methods, for evaluating holographic experiences.  

Biography: Professor Effie Lai-Chong Law is a Professor in Human-Computer Interaction at the School of Informatics, the University of Leicester, UK Effie’s long-term research focus is  usability and user experience (UX) methodologies that are applied to make interactive systems  easy and enjoyable to use for meeting user needs and goals. Her recent research areas are Affective Computing, Conversational AI, and Mixed Reality.

Effie has  been engaged in game-based research since 2008 when she contributed to designing a digital educational game (DEG), 80 Days (funded by EU, for enabling children aged 12 to 14 years old to learn geometry. Since then, she has  contributed to creating other DEGs for children on food nutrition, basic numeracy, and geometric shapes, and for university students to learn programming skills In addition, she has been involved in the project ‘Law in Children’s Lives’ (funded by ESRC)  where a game was deployed as a research tool to understand children’s legal competence.

Effie is an Editorial Board Member of Interacting with Computers (IwC),  International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS), and Quality and User Experience).  Effie has been involved in a number of national and international research projects. Currently, she is involved in the following projects:

  •  Augmented Reality Interactive Educational Systems (ARETE), EU H2020, 2019-2023
  • Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Verifiability Node (TAS), UKRI, 2020 – 2024
  • Personalized Space Technology Exercise Platform (P-STEP,) European Space Agency/UKSA/NHS, 2021-2023

Effie was the first female Professor to be appointed to the School of Informatics.

Title: Games as Experimental Paradigms: What action games can tell us about the acquisition of expertise in complex dynamic tasks

Speaker: Professor Wayne D. Wayn

Abstract: We view action games as experimental paradigms for cognitive psychology. For these purposes, the best are those requiring significant amount of time to master.  What occurs in that time can provide key insights into the acquisition of dynamic task performance. We begin our talk with a brief survey of games in research starting with the pioneering work of the Loftus’ and Sudnow. In a nod to our audience, we then dwell lightly on Donchin’s work creating and using Space Fortress as a tool to study learning strategies. We remain with Space Fortress long enough to discuss Rahman & Gray’s use Space Fortress data in support of the Plateau, Dips, and Leaps approach to understanding skill acquisition. Of course, we need to discuss our work with 492 hours of undergraduate play and about 170 hrs of play from the Classic Tetris World Championships (2020). Finally, we make a brief landing on our new work exploring the dynamics of pairwise performance by building a cooperative action game in which pairs of undergraduates play for 2 hrs/wk across 5 weeks of gameplay.

Biography: Professor Wayne D. Gray is professor of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he founded the CogWorks Laboratory (CWL). 

Gray is a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (HFES), and the American Psychological Association (APA). In 2008, APA awarded him the Franklin V. Taylor Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Applied Experimental & Engineering Psychology. He is a past Chair of the Cognitive Science Society and the founding Chair of the Human Performance Modeling technical group of HFES. At present he is the Executive Editor for the Cognitive Science Society’s first new journal in 30 years, Topics in Cognitive Science (topiCS). In 2012, he was elected a Fellow by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and spent his sabbatical in research at the Max Planck Institute Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition (ABC) in Berlin. Most recently, he received an IBM Faculty Award from IBM’s Cognitive Systems Institute.

Today his research focuses on detailed studies of longitudinal changes in individual human performance — especially performance in dynamic, real-time tasks — tasks in which even hesitating requires a decision to hesitate. These types of tasks require us to focus on the mind’s eye and the mind’s hand (that is, the interaction of perception, action, and cognition) within dynamic, externally-paced, task environments.


The detailed scientific programme will follow at a later date