Primary Research Creation Examples

Play the Knave

Institution: University of California, Davis

Play the Knave logo

This project uses the Mekanimatorplatform to enhance understanding of Shakespeare in performance. Play the Knave is a Kinect-enabled game for Windows that offers players an immersive, embodied experience of staging Shakespeare. We believe that interactive, gamified engagement with theatrical production not only stimulates audience interest but also helps spectators build the competencies required for theatergoing. The game is designed for theater installations, K-12 education, and literary entertainment.





Rival Books of Aster

Institution: University of Waterloo

Rival Books of Aster logo

This commercial game that was under development by Stitch Media is a locative mobile gaming platform that innovates on the well-established genre known as the collectible card game. The innovation stems from the game’s design as a work of continually produced interactive narrative; these aspects of the game were designed substantially according to the research in the humanities and computer science provided by  researchers. The game itself creates an on-going history of gameplay and is published on the Internet. In essence, players of the game are dynamically being written into the mythology of the game, an innovation that was not possible without the interns’ initial and ongoing research throughout the project. The project specifically called for an innovative approach to narrative where constraints were designed but then the actual story arcs and plot points were decided by player actions in-game. The first researcherconsidered game narratology and, through developing narrative elements of the company’s game, determined a narratological theory that explained the functioning of interactive games that interject players into a virtual world that changes to reflect the players’ progress through the game. The second researcher examined type annotation systems and the application of those systems in the domain of video game mechanics.


Blueberry Pie Under The Martian Sky

Institution: Concordia University

Blueberry Pie poster image

Anishnabe artist Benesiinaabandan recounts a story he was told by Cree Elder Wilfred Buck about Spider Woman. From her home at the centre of the Seven Sisters, Spider Woman wove a long thread along which the Anishinabe people travelled to Earth. Some modern interpretations of this legend say that this spider thread is a metaphor for a wormhole. Another story says that some day, a young boy will return to that place from where the Anishinabe came. Blueberry Pie Under The Martian Sky is a virtual reality (VR) artwork that  takes place seven generations in the future, when human beings are able to travel through wormholes. It follows that young boy as he journeys back to his people’s place of origin.

Additional Research Creation Examples

Concordia University

Each Branch Determined

Each Branch Determined graphic

Each Branch Determined imagines northern New Mexico 150 years in the future and finds a series of interconnected American Indian and Xicano pueblos working collaboratively to exercise community and regional self-determination. The immersive experience guides users through landscapes and settings that are framed to exploit sci-fi conventions of an apocalyptic future. However, over time, the user discovers that what appears as apocalyptic is actually a series of managed processes intended to restore and manage land and natural resources, and community ceremonies intended to culturally and socially actuate past, present and future.


Virtual Reality and Empathy Education: Understanding Cultural, Gender and Ethnic Differences in the Workplace

Researchers work with flight attendants to integrate VR training for empathy education in the workplace. They are creating a series of VR experiences for the flight attendants to integrate in their training. They are also creating a podcast series which included interviews with frontline workers who deal with empathy on a regular basis in their workplace and asking them about the potential of using VR for empathy education.


Tactual Realities: Weaving Virtual Environments

weaving graphic

This interdisciplinary research-creation project examines the digital/material overlap, through an exploration of three-dimensional weaving in conversation with 360° video and Virtual Reality technologies. Tactual Realities explores how VR technology and weaving can inform one another and where their similarities lie, in order to re-conceptualize these media and their potential applications through translation and transformation.

University of California, Davis


Buypartisan graphic

Buypartisan is a video game based on a board game . It illustrates the impact of money on elections. Players take on the role of poltical parties in competition to win an election in an imaginary nation. Voters are located on the opinion grid based on their opinions on 3 different axes of issues, but money can be used to pull them closer, throw out shadow positions and many other moves. The dynamic of the game is such that it gradually illustrates the corrupting influence of unregulated money on the democratic process. Variables such as time limits on elections, spending limits, the number of parties and many others can be toggled.


Frack the Game

Frack the Game title graphic

Frack the Game is a video game project that appeared initially in a board game format to explore the ethical and socioeconomic landscape of fracking. Players of Frack the Game assume the role of fracking corporations that compete to survey, drill, and extract as much natural gas as possible to become the largest and wealthiest corporation before the world ends. Through the course of the game, players encounter difficult decisions as they must negotiate concerns around profits, environmental health, policies and laws, and public reception of fracking practices.



Precision Targets

Precision Targets graphic

Precision Targets is a multimedia study of GPS in the current era of seemingly endless war. It asks how “dual-use” technologies blur the distinction between military and civilian spheres. What are our expectations and assumptions about information technologies? How can we say “no” to war when we say “yes” to militarization every single day? Precision Targets is designed to raise these questions and others by moving through the multimedia piece to engage the animated possibilities of GPS in everyday life.


University of Waterloo

Alice and Schrödinger

Alice and Schrodinger image

Alice and Schrödinger is a playful exploration of the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre. Using a combination of near-field communication chips, which users access in specific locations, and bluetooth-based iBeacons, which let users know when they’re near something interesting, Alice and Schrödinger encourages users to wander around the building, seeking out snippets of conversations between Alice, an IQC graduate student, and Schrödinger, her curious and excitable cat. Tours, even self-guided ones, require users to follow a clear, linear path from one fact to another, restricting them to the path that the designer thinks is most interesting. Instead, Alice and Schrödinger allows people to pick and choose what kind of information they’re interested in, and let the architecture of the building and their own whims draw them to different locations.


Allergies and Allegories 

Allergies and Allegories graphic

Allergies & Allegories is a web-based game that utilizes multimodal rhetoric to train players to recognize the social, cultural, and emotional experience of life with a serious food allergy. The game constitutes a portion of the graduate student’s dissertation as it pertains to his research on using multimodal media to translate knowledge between audiences. But it is also a collaboration between the graduate student and researchers at GET-FACTS (Genetics, Environment and Therapies: Food Allergy Clinical Tolerance Studies). GET-FACTS is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded knowledge mobilization initiative that raises awareness of food allergies in Canada. More specifically, GET-FACTS scholars have produced patient-centered research on the practical, commonplace experiences of life in Canada with a food allergy. Allergies & Allegories translates that knowledge into an interactive, multimodal experience through which players can learn to perceive and recognize the environmental, social, and cultural challenges food-allergic children face. In order to ensure that this knowledge reaches the widest audience, Allergies & Allegories is being developed as an accessible website, open to any with access to a web browser.


Hustle & Flow

Hustle and Flow graphic

Hustle and Flow is a SSHRC sponsored multi-game project that models the simulation and negotiation of transboundary water governance in the St. Lawrence River Basin. The first part of the project is a simulation of the elements at play in the basin itself. The player takes on the role of an omniscient manager tasked with maintaining and extending the Basin’s ecological and human-related functions, while satisfying the various stakeholder groups that live in the area. The second part of the project asks the player to take on the perspective of a stakeholder group and work together with others – that have also played the simulation – to negotiate what policy decisions are best for the St. Lawrence Basin as a whole, while also balancing those wider needs against their (individual) stakeholder needs.

Hustle and Flow was presented at The Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) conference in Toronto in June 2016, and was presented (as part of a games competition) at the Eurpean Conference on Games Based Learning in Paisley, Scotland in October 2016.


The Kitchen Table

The Kitchen Table graphic

The Kitchen Table, completed with support from GET-FACTS (Genetics, Environment and Therapies: Food Allergy Clinical Tolerance Studies) is a board game that finds new and innovative ways to increase overall empathy toward people with food allergies. A co-operative game built around family meal planning and dietary restrictions, Kitchen Table challenges its players to work together to ensure there is enough food on the table for everyone to eat, while dealing with issues like cross-contamination and hidden allergens.



Quantum Cats

Quantum Cats graphic

Quantum Cats shares the wonder of the quantum world in a new and unique way – through a game. In partnership with the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, the Games Institute has created a game that highlights a few of the quantum behaviours that Einstein called ‘weird’ and ‘spooky.’

Quantum Cats is an Angry Birds-like game that features four cats, who are launched using an electromagnetic catapult across levels to rescue the world’s kittens (who are coincidentally trapped in nearby boxes). Each cat’s game mechanics correspond to different quantum properties such as Uncertainty, Quantum Tunnelling, and Superposition. The game aims to make quantum mechanics more accessible to the general public, spark interest in quantum computing, and foster public engagement with quantum computing research.