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Source: University of Canterbury


Computer games are not just for entertainment – they’re seriously powerful tools to solve complex problems, according to a University of Canterbury expert on applied immersive games.


Associate Professor Heide Lukosch, Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative (AIGI) lead, UC Engineering, says applied games are games that not only want to entertain, like Snakes & Ladders, Pokémon Go, or Animal Crossing. Applied games can be used to teach children maths skills, support managers to make decisions, and help people to understand difficult or alien issues, such as the challenges people with disabilities face in their lives. 


Based in the HIT Lab NZ, an international, multidisciplinary research lab which delivers postgraduate degrees from ground-breaking research at UC, she also works with the UC School of Product Design, which offers a Bachelor’s degree majoring in Applied Immersive Game Design.


In her upcoming UC Connect public lecture, How to use applied immersive games for education, work and wonder, she will explain how immersive technologies in computer games – such as virtual or augmented reality – make games very powerful tools as they allow people to take over roles, step into environments, and allow for actions that are normally not possible.


Aviation, transportation, health and education are domains that have already been using both immersive technologies and games for a long time.


“I research how to design engaging and effective training environments in which humans can be prepared for complex real-life situations. One example of an applied immersive game would be a virtual flight simulator where one can step into the role of a pilot, flying over a virtual landscape, and earning badges for every successful mission completed,” Associate Professor Lukosch says.


“In my research, I aim to understand how both virtual and augmented reality techniques can be combined to produce realistic experiences that can help people and organisations dealing with real-world problems.”


Associate Professor Heide Lukosch, AIGI Lead, is a social and media scientist, whose disciplines include information technology, game design, virtual reality, augmented reality, and human-computer interaction. Dr Lukosch works together with local and international academics, as well as with organisations and game developers to answer her research questions, and to support organisations with game-based solutions on the interplay with the games industry.


She lived and worked in Germany and the Netherlands before moving to New Zealand to take up a role leading AIGI at the University of Canterbury. She has designed over 20 analogue and digital applied games for research and learning, driven by her interest in understanding how games should be designed to have an impact on people, organisations, and society. She is also a dedicated player of board and digital games, and a gardener, reader, yogi, and mother of two children. She enjoys living with her family in the south of Christchurch, and usually commutes by e-bike to the HIT Lab NZ at UC.


UC Connect public lecture: How to use applied immersive games for education, work and wonder, Associate Professor Heide Lukosch, AIGI Lead, UC Engineering, University of Canterbury, 7pm – 8pm, Wednesday, 29 July, Ilam campus, Christchurch. Register to attend free at: