Players’ responses to wayfinding cues in 3D video games

For my PhD, I am investigating how different visual wayfinding cues affect players’ in game behavior and the gaming experience. To do so, I have designed 3D action-adventure games in order to manipulate wayfinding challenges and visual cues. I have used several methods and techniques such as observation, questionnaires, interviews, eye-tracking and telemetry analysis. This interdisciplinary research integrates many fields such as visual communication, level design, cognitive psychology and user-centered design, to name a few. This research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and supervised by Dr. Lyn Bartram.

Meaning from motion for interaction and visualization

To date, there is little empirical evidence of the influence of abstract ambient motion (i.e. visual effects) on players’ performance in 3D games. For this project, I designed a research tool (i.e. a small game in Unity) to investigate such influence. I had the opportunity to plan the experimental design, conduct the studies and work on the analysis of the data. Results were published on the International Games Innovation Conference. This research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and supervised by Dr. Lyn Bartram and Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr.

Game analytics – visualizing player behavior

This was an exciting project in which I applied my design and analytical skills. I conducted some user tests from which I collected data of participants playing Dragon Age: Origins. After analyzing participants’ behavior, I proposed a system for visualizing players' actions and progression in the game. I have published and presented this work at ACM Siggraph in 2011 with Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr and Dr. Chris Shaw as co-authors.

Developing methods for evaluation of virtual worlds and understanding user experiences

I worked as a research assistant in collaboration with Bardel Entertainment, Electronic Arts and BioWare from 2010 to 2011. The goal was to triangulate different methods to assess player experience. At Bardel entertainment, I worked with the designers of TokiWorld (a virtual environment for children) for which I suggested some improvements in its navigational system. At Electronic Arts I worked with the Need for Speed team and the Dragon Age team at BioWare, conducting user tests for both games. I collected eye-tracking data and qualitative self-reports. Also, I worked with computer scientists to make sense of telemetry data. This project was led by Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr and involved several students from Simon Fraser University. Project funded by GRAND-NSERC.