CM Seminar Talk: Magy Seif El-Nasr

Speaker Name: 
Magy Seif El-Nasr
Speaker Title: 
Associate Professor of Computer Sciences & Arts, Media and Design
Speaker Organization: 
Northeastern University
Start Time: 
Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 11:40am
End Time: 
Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 12:55pm
Computational Media Department

Modeling the Player Experience: Towards Designing Games for Educational and Social Impact


Interactive 3D environments, interactive narratives and digital games, are emerging as platforms used for entertainment, education, training, health, and citizen science. The potential social impact of these environments on such a wide variety of application domains elevates the importance of developing novel methods that can enhance the design quality of such environments as well as assess their utility. In this talk, I will discuss a few research projects showing how we can develop innovative designs and tune such designs using novel methods that aid us in effectively capturing the player experience. The first project is focused on developing a game for health called Spa Play, developed in partnership with IgnitePlay, an indie game company. Spa Play was designed using Self Determination Theory. We further developed a novel methodology called Data-Driven Retrospective Interviewing, which enabled us to use, process and visualize player logs and combine them with annotations from interviews to shed light on design problems that impact players’ engagement, adherence, and motivation. While this method presented a good step towards understanding the player experience, it didn’t address aspects of problem solving, decisionmaking and strategy formation which are important for learning games. We addressed this shortcoming by developing a new methodology called Interactive Behavior Analytics, developed to deeply understand players’ behaviors capturing contextual aspects as well as individual differences. Leveraging this work, we are currently exploring the use of visualizations of players’ play traces to stimulate reflection --- thus developing novel game design mechanics that directly targets learning through reflection. In addition, I will discuss the different ways I have contributed to diversity and inclusion within STEM including our current plans to use games as a medium to promote discussions on diversity and inclusion.


Magy Seif El-Nasr is an associate Professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences and the College of Arts, Media and Design, where she directs the Game User Interaction and Intelligence (GUII) Lab. Dr. Seif El-Nasr earned her Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in Computer Science in 2003. Her research focuses on two goals (a) developing automated tools and techniques for authoring, adapting, and personalizing virtual environments (e.g., interactive narrative, believable characters, and visuals), and (b) developing evidence-based methodologies to measure the effectiveness of game environments through the development of novel in-depth behavior mining and visual analytics tools. She worked in collaboration with several game companies both in the serious as well as the entertainment game spaces. She published the first book on the subject of game analytics, called Game Analytics: Maximizing the Value of Player Data. Her work is internationally known and cited in several game industry books. Additionally, she has received several awards and recognition within the game research community. Notably, she received four Best Paper Awards and one honorable mention. Further, she was named a HEVGA (Higher Education Video Game Alliance) Fellow. She also serves as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Games and IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing.


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