Disciplines/fields: Computer Science, Game Design, Health and Wellness, Psychology of Motivation

Duration: 4 sessions

Course Content

This course examines game techniques for use in playful and serious applications. The emphasis will be on including game elements into applications to provide playful experiences, to motivate behaviour, to connect people, or to crowdsource work. We will begin with a brief look into the history of games and gamification, followed by an introduction to the structure of games with a focus on critically deconstructing games using the formal and dramatic elements. Using game examples throughout to elucidate the concepts, we will introduce the area of gamification, discuss the competing theories of whether or not gamification works, and provide an overview of theories of motivation drawn from psychology that are relevant to games for change. Finally, we will engage in hands-on gamification exercises to practice the skills learned throughout the day.


  • Deconstruct games into their formal and dramatic elements
  • Discuss the varying perspectives on gamification and games for change
  • Apply the principles of gamification to an application for behaviour change


Rigby, S., & Ryan, R. M. (2011). Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound. ABC-CLIO.


Regan is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan. She pioneered the area of physiological evaluation for computer games in her Ph.D. research on affective computing at Simon Fraser University with support from Electronic Arts. With over 100 papers that have been cited over 4000 times, she continues to investigate novel ways of understanding players and player experience in partnership with multiple industrial collaborators, but also develops and evaluates persuasive games, exergames, games for special populations including children with neurodevelopmental disorders, games that foster interpersonal relationships, and ubiquitous games that merge the real world with the game world. She has been the invited keynote speaker at two international game conferences, led the Games theme in the Canadian GRAND NCE, was the papers chair for the inaugural CHI PLAY conference, and is leading the new games subcommittee for SIGCHI.