We are extremely excited to announce our keynote speaker line up for CHI PLAY 2016

Monday, October 17th

Jamie Madigan, Ph.D.

Jaime Madigan

Title: Things I wish Game Researchers Would Do (Or Do More): A View from an Occasional Scientist and Hardcore Gamer

Academic research on video games is flourishing, but to some of us watching from the outside (or at most from just inside the doorway) in it seems that researchers still haven’t gotten to some notable issues and questions that are critically important to those of us who play games and those who make them. Specifically, research in major journals seems to overrepresent issues around violence, education, addiction, gamification, physical health, and a handful of other topics.

These are important and worthwhile subjects for study, so we’re lucky to have it. But left out are other topics that game developers can put directly to use and which players can use to approach their hobby on their own terms. For example, how games can foster enjoyable competition, how they can get players to spend money (or not) on in-app purchases, how to craft feedback systems that get players to adopt and persist in goals, how to reduce cheating, and how players share. These “little picture” issues are a gold mine for academic research and would be well received by the end users of research. In addition, other areas of psychology already have models and theories about human behavior that can be extended to the context of gaming and HCI.

This presentation will focus on on the speaker’s experience thinking about these kinds of questions over the years and provide some examples of how they are being approached in some circumstances with generous help from other areas of psychology, communications, economics, and neighboring fields. It will also argue why they are worthy of being studied scientifically and rigorously.

Short Bio
Jamie Madigan Ph.D. has become an expert on the psychology of video games and seeks to popularize understanding of how various aspects of psychology can be used to understand why games are made how they are and why their players behave as they do. Madigan has written extensively on the subject for various magazines, websites, blogs, his own site at, and in his 2015 book Getting Gamers: The Psychology of Video Games and Their Impact on the People Who Play Them. He has also consulted with game development companies and talked at conferences about how game developers can incorporate psychology principles into game design and how players can understand how it affects their play. Finally, he has appeared as an expert on the psychology of video games in dozens of print, radio, and web outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine, Wired Magazine, The Atlantic, and others.

Tuesday, October 18th

Annika Waern, Ph.D.

Annika Waern

Title: Play, Participation and Empowerment: Design strategies and dilemmas

The activity of play has transformative power. When a design invites play, it encourages co-creation and empowers participants to take control over their own experience. Yet, just as game design  strives to create challenges that are fun to overcome, play design also strives to create specific, unique experiences – and those experiences will only be available if players to a certain extent succumb to the intentions of designers. Finding the balance between player and designer initiative is thus not straightforward. In this presentation I will discuss example designs that have managed – and some that haven’t – eliciting some of the design strategies that can be brought to aid. I will also pose the critical question: does this transformative power reach out of play? Are the powers of play revolutionary – or not?

Short Bio
Annika Waern is professor and chair of Human – Computer Interaction at Uppsala University. She has a long-standing background in design research on games and play within HCI as well as the international game research community, most notably through her groundbreaking work on pervasive games. Recently, prof. Waern has turned her focus to designing for play for children as well as for adults, looking into among as diverse areas as the playful design of science center experiments, outdoor play environments and live role-playing games.

Wednesday, October 19th

Nick Yee, Ph.D.

Nick Yee

Title: The Gamer Motivation Profile: What We Learned From 250,000 Gamers

Gaming preferences and motivations vary among gamers in interesting and meaningful ways. An empirical model of gaming motivations allows developers and researchers to create more engaging experiences for both entertainment and serious games.

At Quantic Foundry, we developed an online app and used an iterative statistical process to create the Gamer Motivation Profile. Data from over 250,000 gamers has allowed us to develop both an empirical model and a validated tool for understanding and assessing gamer motivations.

In this talk, I’ll use a variety of “big picture” questions and observations about gaming motivations to navigate the many surprising findings from the large data set. For example, why don’t we just use the Big 5 from personality psychology? Are factor analytic models just laundry lists of motivations? And has our tendency to focus on gender differences in gaming distracted us from far larger demographic trends?

Our data set is unique both in terms of its size and the linkages between motivations, demographics, and specific game titles (all gathered from the profile tool). During the course of the talk, I’ll also describe new analytical methods we’ve developed and client case studies as examples of how we’ve been able to apply the data within the game industry.

Short Bio
Nick Yee is the co-founder and analytics lead of Quantic Foundry. For over a decade, he has conducted research on the psychology of gaming and virtual worlds using a wide variety of methods. At Stanford University, he used immersive virtual reality to explore how avatars can change the way people think and behave. At the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), he applied social network analysis and predictive analytics to examine large-scale World of Warcraft data.

He was a senior research scientist in Ubisoft’s Gamer Behavior Research group where he combined data science and social science methods to generate actionable player insights for different game development teams. At Quantic Foundry, he leads the research and development of new tools for quantifying the motivations of game audiences. He is the author of “The Proteus Paradox: How Online Games and Virtual Worlds Change Us—And How They Don’t”.