Games Reading Group 2016/17

The Games Reading Group will continue in the 2016/17 academic year. Our first meeting is on Thursday, December 8th from 13:00 to 14:00. As usual, we will explore topics around Human-Computer Interaction, Games Studies, and wider Games Research.

If you are a (staff or student member) of the University and would like to know more and/or join the group, please contact Kathrin Gerling.

DiGRA FDG 2016 Workshop: Digital Games for Older Adults

We’re happy to announce that the Lincoln Games Lab is co-organizing a workshop at the first joint conference of DiGRA and FDG focusing on digital games for older adults. The workshop will address issues around game development for older audiences:

Previous assessments of digital games for the older adult market have focused on their use as a tool to promote aspects of well-being – e.g., fostering social interaction and providing cognitive and physical stimulation. This perspective suggests that the primary means of these games are to encourage older adults to better themselves, which introduces an overly functionalist perspective on play.

In this workshop, we aim to shift this perspectives on games for older adults by highlighting the hedonic and eudaimonic value that they offer. To do so, we will explore challenges and opportunities in the design and development of market-specific games to create empowering and engaging experiences.

The conference takes place in Dundee, Scotland; the workshop will run on Monday, August 1st 2016. For more information including submission details, please visit the workshop website.

Research Seminar: Dr. Joe Marshall

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Joe Marshall, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, will be visiting us to give a research seminar on Interpersonal Touch in Gaming.

The seminar takes place on Wednesday, February 10th, 13:30 in room MC 3107. Seating is limited – please email Kathrin Gerling (kgerling at lincoln dot ac dot uk) if you would like to attend.


Touch between people is a key way in which we communicate socially, from the early bonds developed by caring touch between parent and child, to the many adult uses of touch to communicate friendship, sexual attraction, violent aggression or physical competition. Touch is also a part of many sports and games, such as rugby, martial arts and Twister. In children vigorous physical contact play serves both long-term functions in the development of cognition, emotional coding and fighting skills, plus more immediate functions  relating to strength and endurance training & social dominance.

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Global Game Jam 2016

The School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln will be hosting a site for the 2016 Global Game Jam, which takes place from January 29th to January 31st. If you’re looking to have a go at developing a full game in just a weekend – why not join us?


“Come along to the University of Lincoln site for the biggest international game jam of the year! This 48 hour Game Jam pits developers across the globe against each other in a battle to make the best game they can.

Programmers, artists of all types, sound designers, even writers of ALL abilities are welcome to come along and work on something fantastic. Even if you’ve never written a line of code before, or have never drawn anything, we still want you to come on down and have a go! 48 hours is a long time, so why not learn something new?”

Attending the event is free, but you will need to book a ticket via Eventbrite. More information on the Lincoln site is also available via facebook.

Lincoln Games Research at CHI 2016

We’re happy to share that we’ve had two full papers conditionally accepted to CHI 2016!

Gerling, K., Hicks, K., Kalyn, M., Evans, A., and Linehan, C. Designing Movement-based Play With Young People Using Powered Wheelchairs. Conditionally accepted to CHI 2016, full paper.

Smeddinck, J., Mandryk, R., Birk, M., Gerling, K., Barsilowski, D., and Malaka, R. How to Present Game Difficulty Choices? Exploring the Impact on Player Experience. Conditionally accepted to CHI 2016, full paper.

The first paper is the result of a year-long research project funded by the University of Lincoln Research Investment Fund that was carried out together with St. Francis School in Lincoln, and looked into making movement-based play accessible for young people who use powered wheelchairs. The second paper was co-authored with collaborators at the University of Bremen, Germany, and University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and it explores how player perceive different options to adjust game difficulty.

We look forward to seeing you in San Jose!

Some impressions from CHI PLAY 2015

We’ve just returned from CHI PLAY 2015 in London, which was a more than worthy successor to last year’s inaugural event in Toronto. The conference was a whirlwind of presentations, demos, inspiring conversations, restaurants and pubs, and we’ve come home excited about new collaborations and interesting ideas.

kieran london

If you’re interested in what other people thought about the conference, Gustavo Fortes Tondello of the HCI Games Group at the University of Waterloo wrote up a very nice blog post for the ACM’s Crossroads magazine.

And last but not least, we would like to thank Kieran Hicks, Alexandra Samper Martinez (Universitat Rovira i Virgili), and Max Birk (University of Saskatchewan) for joining us for post-conference talks at the University of Lincoln – our students very much appreciated the guest lectures and insights into the games research community.

Reflections on Accessible Game Design: Working with Players & Game Design Experts

Recently, we ran two very different game design projects: When teaching Advanced Games Studies, we challenged our students to create wheelchair-accessible movement-based games, and in a university-funded research project, I (Kathrin) worked with young people who use powered wheelchairs, trying to elicit game concepts that they would be interested in. A comparison of these two approaches to game design will be available in the forthcoming special issue on Participatory Design for Serious Games in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

Perhaps the most surprising lesson that we learned throughout the project was how daunting the creation of a wheelchair-controlled game was for design experts; many of them felt they would not be able to grasp the implications of wheelchair use, and wondered whether they could create respectful and engaging games, worrying about the choice of game theme and background stories. In contrast, many of the young people using wheelchairs openly reflected on the impact of their abilities on play, and where we expected to see instances of vulnerability, participants voiced their opinions and appreciated the opportunity to make themselves heard. In the end, both groups came up with a number of exciting game concepts, and there was quite a lot of overlap between them.

What this teaches us is that involvement in design can expose vulnerability in unexpected ways. But beyond that, it also raises the question of how accessible game design should be approached to turn it into a rewarding experience for game designers and players, and it suggests that we might need a wider discussion of game accessibility that extends beyond interface design and adaptable game mechanics.

Gerling, K., Linehan, C., Kirman, B., Kalyn, M., Evans, A., and Hicks, K. Creating wheelchair-controlled video games: challenges and opportunities when involving young people with mobility impairments and game design experts. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (in print, 2015). View Pre-print.

Lincoln Games Research at CHI PLAY 2015

This year’s edition of SIGCHI’s Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY) is quickly approaching, and with the acceptance of a range of submissions, it’s been a great success for us. What makes this even sweeter (besides the conference being hosted at our doorstep in London) is the fact that our papers are the result of great collaborations and excellent student work, for example, Kieran Hicks’ full paper on Hashtag Dungeon, his undergraduate project at the University of Lincoln and also a fully developed indie game soon to go live for sale on Steam.

Paper: Exploring Twitter as a Game Platform; Strategies and Opportunities for Microblogging-based Games

Kieran Hicks – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Kathrin Gerling – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Ben Kirman – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Conor Linehan – University College Cork, Ireland
Patrick Dickinson – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Note: “After All the Time I Put Into This”: Co-Creation and the End-of-life of Social Network Games

Alexandra Samper-Martinez – University Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Kathrin Gerling – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Ercilia Garcia-Alvarez – University Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Ben Kirman – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Shaun Lawson – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Paper: How Self-Esteem Shapes our Interactions with Play Technologies

Max Birk – University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Regan Mandryk – University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Kathrin Gerling – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Matthew Miller – University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Workshop: Ageing Playfully: Advancing Research on Games for Older Adults Beyond Accessibility and Health Benefits –

Kathrin Gerling – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Bob De Schutter – Miami University, United States
Julie Brown – Ohio University, United States
Jason Allaire – North Carolina State University, United States

Work-in-Progress: Dendrogram Visualization as a Game Design Tool

Tom Feltwell – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Grzegorz Cielniak – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Patrick Dickinson – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Ben Kirman – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Shaun Lawson – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Work-in-Progress: Dead Fun: Uncomfortable Interactions in a Virtual Reality Game for Coffins

James Brown – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Kathrin Gerling – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Patrick Dickinson – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Ben Kirman – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Work-in-Progress: Exploring Casual Exergames With Kids Using Wheelchairs

Kieran Hicks – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Kathrin Gerling – University of Lincoln, United Kingdom

Preprints of most of our papers are available via the University of Lincoln ePrints site. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in London!

Games Research Reading Group

For the 2014/2015 academic year, the Games Research Reading Group explores topics related to Human-Computer Interaction, Games Studies, and general Games Research.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, March 17th from 2:00 to 3:00 PM to discuss “The Effectiveness (or Lack Thereof) of Aim-Assist Techniques in First-Person Shooter Games” by Vicencio-Moreira et al. (available via

Everyone is welcome, and we particularly encourage participation of undergraduate Games Computing students. For a full overview of topics and dates, please visit If you would like to join the group, please contact Kathrin Gerling.

Global Game Jam 2015

We again hosted an official site of the Global Game Jam, in space kindly provided by the School of Computer Science. This year we had over 50 jammers join us from all over the UK in what is becoming our favourite weekend of the year.

The Global Game Jam is the world’s biggest hackathon and this year saw over 28000 jammers work in 518 locations in 78 countries, simultaneously spending 48 hours creating 5437 brand new games. This year the theme was the simple question “What do we do now?”, which served as inspiration for a wide variety of games from imaginary skipping ropes, through idol worship simulators, co-op platformers, games of celtic mysticism and even a game that uses a real coffin as a controller. I prepared a short video of the many highlights to give a taste for the weekend:

You can see all 19 games created on the University of Lincoln page on the Global Game Jam site. All games are open source and downloadable for free – please give them a go!

Special thanks to Matt Ashton, technician for the School of Computer Science, for support and patience over the whole weekend, plus the School of Computer Science for loan of the space and expenses, and the University of Lincoln Computing Society for helping manage and organise the event. And of course thanks to all the jammers for making such a fun weekend!