Katherine Isbister
Working at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction and Games, my group builds and researches playful computer-supported experiences that push the boundaries of moment-to-moment engagement with technology. Here is an overview of some active research themes:

Games and Emotion

Exploring and understanding the emotional impact of game design, and innovating emotional experience with games and playful interfaces through the creation of novel technical prototypes and design research.

Selected Publications
Isbister, K. 2016 How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design. MIT Press.

Isbister, K. & Schaffer, N. (Eds.). 2008. Game Usability: Advice from the Experts for Advancing the Player Experience. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann.

Journal Articles, Book Chapters, and Refereed Conference Papers
Yannakakis, G., Isbister, K., Paiva, A., and Karpouzis, K. 2014. Guest Editorial: Emotion in Games. IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, Special Issue on Emotion and Games 1(5): 1-2.

Isbister, K., Höök, K., Sundström, P., and Laaksolahti, J. 2011. Generating Ideas and Building Prototypes, In Paolo Petta, Catherine Pelachaud and Roddy Cowie (eds), Emotion-Oriented Systems, The Humaine Handbook, pp. 667-682, Springer.

Höök, K., Isbister, K., Westerman, S., Gardner, P., Sutherland, E., Vasalou, A., Sundström, P., Kaye, J.J., and Laaksolahti, J. 2011. Evaluation of Affective Interactive Applications, In Paolo Petta, Catherine Pelachaud and Roddy Cowie (eds), Emotion-Oriented Systems, The Humaine Handbook, pp. 683-700, Springer.

Isbister, K. 2011. Emotion and Motion: Games as Inspiration for Shaping the Future of Interface. Interactions, September/October 2011.

Isbister, K., Höök, K., Laaksolahti, J., & Sharp, M. 2007. Sensual evaluation instrument: Developing a trans-cultural self-report measure of affect. International journal of human-computer studies 65(4): 315-328.


Connecting through Social Play

A detailed look at collocated social game play, building games and studying how they modify social interaction, toward finding design patterns and innovating technological augmentation of in-person interaction. This line of research has included building exhibition-ready games, such as Yamove!, an IndieCade finalist game that debuted at the 2012 NYU Game Center No Quarter exhibition, and was also featured at the 2012 World Science Festival Innovation Arcade.

Selected Publications
Isbister, K. 2016. Connecting through Play. Interactions Magazine 23(4) (Cover article).

Isbister, K., Márquez Segura, E., Kirkpatrick, S., Chen, X., Salahuddin, S., Cao, G. and Tang, R. 2016. Yamove! A Movement Synchrony Game That Choreographs Social Interaction. Human Technology Special Issue on Human-Technology Choreographies: Body, Movement, and Space, Volume 12 (1):74-102.

Abe, K. and Isbister, K. 2016. Hotaru: The Lightning Bug Game. (Presented in Interactivity). CHI Extended Abstracts 2016: 277-280.

Isbister, K. and Mueller, F. 2015. Guidelines for the Design of Movement-Based Games and their relevance to HCI. Human Computer Interaction, special issue on Games and HCI 30(4), 366-399.

Márquez Segura, E. and Isbister, K. 2015. Enabling Co-Located Physical Social Play: A Framework for Design and Evaluation. In Bernhaupt R. (ed), Evaluating User Experience in Games (2nd Edition), Springer.

Robbins, H. and Isbister, K. 2014. Pixel Motion: A Surveillance Camera Enabled Public Digital Game, In Proceedings of Foundations of Digital Games 2014, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

Playful Technologies

Bringing gameful design principles and practices to 'serious' application areas, such as learning, authentication and security, and health and wellbeing.

Selected Publications
Melcer, E. and Isbister, K. 2016. Bridging the Physical Learning Divides: A Design Framework for Embodied Learning Games and Simulations. Proceedings of DiGRA/FDG 2016.

Karlesky, M. and Isbister, K. 2016. Understanding Fidget Widgets: Exploring the Design Space of Embodied Self-Regulation. Proceedings of NordiCHI 2016.

Sae-Bae, N., Memon, N. Isbister, K., and Ahmed, K. 2014. Multi-touch Gesture-based Authentication. IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security April 9(4): 568-582.

Karleskly, M. and Isbister, K. 2014. Designing for the Physical Margins of Digital Workspaces: Fidget Widgets in Support of Productivity and Creativity. In Proceedings of TEI’14, Munich, Germany, pp. 14-19.

Sae-Bae, N., Ahmed, K., Isbister, K. and Memon, N. 2012. Biometric-Rich Gestures: A Novel Approach to Authentication on Multi-touch Devices. Proceedings of CHI 2012, Austin, TX.

Avatars and Characters

Longstanding investigation of what makes digital characters engaging and effective, using research from the social sciences on topics including nonverbal communication, social roles, and personality, among other aspects. This line of inquiry includes SimWorks, a series of artworks created in collaboration with Rainey Straus, using various versions of the Sims game. These pieces have been shown in venues including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the San Jose Museum of Modern Art, and the Toronto Design Exchange, and have won awards including the New Voices New Visions award.

Selected Publications
Books and Book Chapters
Isbister, K. 2006. Better Game Characters by Design: A Psychological Approach. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann. (Nominated for a Game Developer Magazine Frontline Award)

Isbister, K. 2016. Character. In Guins, R. and Lowood, H. (eds), Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon. MIT Press.

Journal Articles and Refereed Conference Papers
Isbister, K. 2009. Parappa the Rapper: Or how I learned to love Rodney Alan Greenblat and Masaya Matsuura. In Davidson, D. (Ed.) Well Played, etc press.