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Matrix Seminar: Regan Mandryk, The Science of Social Gaming: A Data-Centric Approach
January 19 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Please RSVP for zoom link at https://forms.office.com/r/0dEvggZvVQ
Title: The Science of Social Gaming: A Data-Centric Approach
Abstract: Games have long been used to support social interaction and create shared experiences. Digital games are increasingly being used to form and maintain relationships, and in-game friendships have been shown to help satisfy our need to belong and can even combat loneliness, improving our wellbeing. In this talk, Mandryk will present her research on harnessing game data to understand the benefits social gaming—including in casual, esports, and streaming contexts, show how the benefits can be thwarted by toxicity and harassment, and discuss innovative game technologies that can better connect players, streamers, spectators, and fans. She will conclude with a discussion of the rich sources of data that are generated in gaming contexts, and how these data can be used in the science of understanding human behaviours.
Regan Mandryk is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Victoria, Canada. Prior to moving to UVic, she was a professor at the University of Saskatchewan for 15 years and was a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Digital Gaming Technologies and Experiences there. She pioneered the area of affective physiological evaluation for computer games in her Ph.D. research from Simon Fraser University with support from Electronic Arts.
Her long-term research objective is to design, develop, and evaluate novel technologies that improve the social, cognitive, and emotional wellbeing of people. Having researched games since her first publications in the early 2000s, she has been at the forefront of legitimizing games research in HCI, with more than 200 top-tier publications, including 26 best paper awards and nominations. Together with her trainees, she has made foundational and significant contributions in modeling the emotional experience and personality of players, harnessing game motivation, facilitating social connection through play, combating toxicity within multiplayer games, and harnessing games for the assessment and treatment of mental health. Her many trainees have gone on to faculty positions at universities within Canada (e.g., Dalhousie, Waterloo) and in Europe (e.g., Utrecht, Karlsruhe, Eindhoven, University College London), and to industrial research positions at companies like Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Google, and Meta.
Regan led Games research in the Canadian GRAND Network, led the first ever Canadian graduate training program on games user research (SWaGUR.ca), and was pivotal in establishing the gaming research community within SIGCHI—particularly in establishing and leading the ACM CHI PLAY conference. She also chaired CHI in 2018 and chaired the CHI Steering Committee from 2019–2022. She was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2014, received the University of Saskatchewan New Researcher Award in 2015, the Canadian Association for Computer Science’s Outstanding Young Canadian Computer Science Researcher Prize in 2016, the prestigious E.W.R. Steacie Fellowship from NSERC in 2018, was inducted into the SIGCHI Academy in 2023, and received the Canadian Human Computer Communications Society’s Achievement Award in 2023.