SIAT - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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The effect of avatar realism and location awareness on social presence in location-based mobile games

Date created: 
2011-03-29
Abstract: 

Location-Based Games (LBGs) have been gaining both academic and industrial interest in the past few years. Utilizing location information, LBGs enable users to extend their social game-play from cyberspace to the real-world. However, sharing personal information particularly the physical location of users is likely to raise privacy concerns resulting in eroding players’ social experience. To further explore this issue, I investigated the impacts of two attributes of privacy, avatar realism and location-awareness, on the players’ perceived social presence during a designed LBG. The results indicated that the social presence was not significantly affected by the applied privacy configurations. However, players’ negative feelings decreased when photographic images of players were used as their avatars. Further, players desired to share their physical location and sacrifice location privacy in order to track other players. My findings suggest that a well-designed LBG can lessen users’ location privacy concerns.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Analyzing the game narrative: structure and technique

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-02-16
Abstract: 

With rapid innovation in computational technologies, storytelling has found a new home in interactive digital media. Among all forms of interactive narrative, story-based digital games are clearly the most prosperous domain thanks to their incredible popularity. Narrative design for such games, however, is often under studied in the current practice of game analysis due to the lack of a mature discourse model specifically for games and interactive narratives. To facilitate a deep understanding of game narratives, powerful analytical instruments are needed to characterize game narratives and describe how narrative works in games. This research seeks to develop a descriptive framework to characterize and describe interactive and game narratives by applying and extending narrative theory. The framework aims to bring out new insights on interactive storytelling by observing how game narratives are constructed, what narrative techniques are used, and how narrative structure and technique affect the narrative and gameplay experience. By applying this framework to three games, the in-depth analyses systematically unravelled how various narrative principles and techniques operate in games and demonstrated the utility of the framework as an analytical instrument for the observation and understanding of the structure of interactive narratives.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tom Calvert
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Semantic zoom view: a focus+context technique for visualizing a document collection

Date created: 
2011-03-11
Abstract: 

In the field of visual analytics, analysts need overviews of large amounts of data. This becomes a challenge when working with non-numerical data such as document collections. This thesis describes the design and use of a new visualization technique called Semantic Zoom View (SZV), which provides an interactive overview of a document collection combined with a detailed view of entities contained in the documents (people, places, etc.) and full text of each document. SZV lets analysts easily and quickly see the main topics of a document collection. Any subset of documents can be semantically zoomed to show increasing detail as the zoom level increases, while keeping surrounding documents visible to supply context. This tight integration of focus within context encourages and facilitates the iterative process of finding relevant documents and reading them. An evaluation compares the described technique to an overview+detail technique for finding answers within a document collection.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Dill
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Residential resource use feedback: exploring ambient and artistic approaches

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-02-22
Abstract: 

Supporting sustainable resource use in the home requires a range of feedback techniques to enable informed decision-making. These techniques include traditional screen-based interfaces, but such tools typically require significant effort and attention from residents. Though they provide precise numerical feedback, they do not support at-a-glance awareness of real-time resource use, nor are they designed to integrate cohesively with the home. An alternative approach is the provision of ambient and artistic visualizations integrated into the domestic environment. To situate this approach, we describe our involvement in the development of feedback and control systems for two sustainable homes. Following from this, we present the results of a mixed methods user study exploring four primary design requirements for ambient and artistic visualization of residential resource use: pragmatic, aesthetic, ambient and ecological. We conclude that these techniques are a viable approach to resource use feedback, and identify important considerations for their design.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lyn Bartram
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Understanding and evaluating cooperative video games

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-02-21
Abstract: 

Cooperative design has been an integral part of many digital and table top games since their inception. With the recent success of games like Resident Evil 5 and Left4dead , many video game designers and producers are currently exploring the addition of cooperative patterns within their games. In this thesis, I present two contributions. First, I present a set of cooperative design patterns. This framework can be used by game designers to add co-op content in their games. Second, I present a set of validated performance metrics that can be used to gauge the users' experience in a cooperative game. In this study, we developed the performance metrics. I then applied them to evaluate four commercial cooperative games. I further validated these metrics through a qualitative content analysis method where I investigated the relationship between the metrics derived by our study and the metrics derived by game reviewers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Magy Seif El-Nasr
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Acquisition of directional knowledge in virtual environments created by panoramic videos

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-12-02
Abstract: 

This thesis documents the creation and analysis of virtual environments generated using panoramic video. These virtual environments offer greater visual realism, but are expensive and time consuming to produce. Experiments were needed to assess how efficiently they support directional tasks or sense of presence. In this study, participants’ ability to locate specific places in the environment and their subjective sense of presence were compared across three conditions: panoramic video, regular video and slide show. Participants reported a stronger sense of presence in the panoramic video condition, although none of the techniques demonstrated a greater efficiency in providing directional knowledge. Thus, it does not appear that the costs of creating panoramic video are warranted, especially for those applications involving only the sequential learning of specific landmark locations. However, the current experimental design was found not revealing differences between the three different locomotion techniques, as the tasks were too difficult for participants.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tom Calvert
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Supporting information handovers: Lessons from first response

Date created: 
2010-12-13
Abstract: 

This thesis addresses the challenges associated with the handover of information in the pre-hospital care chain, with specific attention to the information management issues experienced by first responders. The intention of this work was to develop a more complete understanding of the stakeholders that exist in this system, the data they work with, and their needs in terms of data fields and formatting. The investigation of handover processes in this document includes an overview of information collection, record-keeping and communication practices and protocols used by first responders, informed by data drawn from an ethnographic case study conducted in Whistler, British Columbia, during the summer of 2009. This material forms the foundation for design guidelines for new technology. This thesis considers the tools currently in use, as well as the environmental and cognitive constraints that are intrinsic to crisis management as a domain, in order to offer concrete recommendations for future innovation.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Ellen Balka
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Social presence in a co-located networked art installation

Date created: 
2010-11-15
Abstract: 

This thesis describes the exploratory art research project, Eavesdropping, which aims to increase social presence between individuals in shared public spaces. This internet-based system is designed to create an audio ecology in localized, networked environments like cafes where several computer users are gathered by playing audio from each participant’s laptop and capitalizing on the personal affinity and proximity between individuals and their computers by attracting the attention of others via audio. Two versions of the system were created, the first passive, the second interactive which attempted to increase engagement and immersion to subsequently increase social presence by adding self-representation with the audio and meaningful interaction with the system. User studies involving an engagement and immersion questionnaire designed for this project and an established social presence questionnaire, showed that differences between the versions had a significant negative impact on engagement but did not create an overall change in social presence.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Comparing tangible and multi-touch interfaces for a spatial problem solving task

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-12-07
Abstract: 

This thesis presents the results of an exploratory study of a tangible and a multi-touch interface. The study investigates the effect of interface style on users’ performance, problem solving strategies and preference for a spatial problem solving task. Participants solved a jigsaw puzzle using each interface on a digital tabletop. The effect of interface style was explored through efficiency measures; a comparative analysis of hands-on actions based on a video coding schema for complementary actions; participants’ responses to questionnaires; and observational notes. Main findings are that tangible interaction better enabled complementary actions and was more efficient. Its 3D tactile interaction facilitated more effective search, bi-manual handling and visual comparison of puzzle pieces. For spatial problem solving activities where an effective and efficient strategy is not important, a multi-touch approach is sufficient. The thesis uniquely contributes to understanding the hands-on computational design space through its theoretical framing and empirical findings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alissa Antle
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

The evolution of fun: a generic model of video game challenge for automatic level design

Date created: 
2010-12-08
Abstract: 

This thesis presents an approach to automatic video game level design consisting of a novel computational model of player enjoyment and a generative system based on evolutionary computing. The model is grounded in player experience research and game design theory and is used to estimate the entertainment value of game levels as a function of their constituent rhythm groups: alternating periods of high and low challenge. In comparison to existing, bottom-up techniques such as rule-based systems, the model affords a number of distinct advantages: it can be generalized to different types of games; it provides adjustable parameters representing semantically meaningful concepts such as difficulty and player skill; and it can facilitate mixed-initiative collaboration between the automated system and a human designer. The generative system represents a unique combination of genetic algorithms and constraint solving methods and leverages the model to create fun levels for two different games.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Steve DiPaola
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.