The Gameful Design Heuristics is a project from the HCI Games Group at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Meet our Team


Lennart Nacke

Director of the HCI Games Group

Dr. Lennart E. Nacke is an Associate Professor for Human-Computer Interaction and Game Design in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo. He is working on projects that deal with the cognitive and emotional side of playing games. His goal is to describe, analyse and have computers and machines react to the thoughts and feelings you have when you are fully engaged in playing a video game. With this research we can start understanding the effects of video games (positive and negative). Using body sensor technology, for example sensors for brainwaves, heart rate, or muscle tension, Dr. Nacke taps into some of video gaming’s most motivating features to improve our physical fitness and mental wellbeing. His research is funded nationally and internationally and his publications have won best paper honourable mention (awarded to the top 5%) and best paper awards (awarded to the top 1%) at the premier human-computer interaction conferences CHI 2011 and CSCW 2012. He also writes blog articles for the online magazine Gamasutra via his personal blog.

Gustavo Fortes Tondello

Ph.D. Student in Personalized Health Gamification

Gustavo Tondello is a Ph.D. student at University of Waterloo under supervision of Dr. Lennart Nacke and Dr. Daniel Vogel, researcher at the HCI Games Group, and research lead of the International Gamification Federation. His main interests include gamification and games for health and learning. His research focuses on the design and personalization of gameful applications. He earned his M.Sc. in Computer Science and his B.Sc. in Information Systems from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil. His M.Sc. thesis in Software Engineering focused on the semantic specification of Quality of Service for Semantic Web Services. His B.Sc. thesis focused on configuration management of Embedded Operating Systems using Application Oriented System Design. Before coming to Canada, he worked for several years as a Software Engineer in Brazil. Gustavo is also a researcher of the Logosophical Science affiliated to the Logosophical Foundation of Brazil and North America.

Dennis Kappen

Ph.D. Student, Game Design and User Interaction for Older Adults

Dennis is a Professor of Design at Humber College and teaches in the 4-year Bachelor’s program in Industrial Design. His specializations include human interaction design, ethnographic research, computer aided design, and visualization using various design utilities, such as Autodesk Alias, Solidworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and Dreamweaver. At UOIT, he is in his 3rd year of Ph.D. studies, exploring human interaction design in the context of digital gaming for vulnerable populations under the guidance of Dr. Lennart Nacke, Director of the HCI and Game Science Group. Specifically, he is researching gaming technologies and user interaction as applied to older adults and individuals living with disabilities. Prior to joining Humber College, Dennis was a design strategist and consultant to various companies in both Canada and the United States. He continues to engage in design consulting projects, teaching, and research.

Elisa Mekler

Post Doctoral Fellow

Elisa Mekler is a post-doctoral fellow at the HCI Games Group. She holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Basel with special emphasis on Human-Computer Interaction. Her research focuses on the characteristics of enjoyable and meaningful user experiences with games, gamification, and interactive technology in general. She is particularly interested in why people sometimes value (mixed and negative) emotional experiences with technology, as well as the motivational mechanisms underlying gamification. Her publications have won best paper (top 1%) and best paper honourable mention awards (top 5%) at the premier human-computer interaction conferences CHI and CHI PLAY.

Marim Ganaba

Master’s Student

Marim is currently pursing a Master’s in digital media experience innovation (MDEI) at the University of Waterloo. She has great interest in UX, visual and interaction designs. With her background in science and artistic abilities, she seeks ways to simplify complex tasks into delightful and intuitive designs and experiences. She is currently working as a user interface and graphic designer at the HCI games and helping her fellow coworkers with their projects.

More People from the HCI Games Group…