Colloquium Cognitive Systems

Vulnerability at Play: Digital Games in Sensitive Settings

PhD Kathrin Gerlin (KU Leuven)


Abstract. Digital games hold the promise of contributing to quality of life by providing engaging experiences for broad audiences. With the push of games into sensitive settings (e.g., games to encourage physical activity among older adults, or young people with mobility impairment), new challenges arise for researchers and designers. In my talk, I will reflect on research projects involving vulnerable audiences, and the risks they take when engaging with games (or the risks we expose them to when inviting them to participate in play). Drawing from these projects, I will discuss implications for game design and the use of gaming technologies such as VR in sensitive settings, and develop new perspectives on challenges and opportunities of games for vulnerable player groups.

Bio. Kathrin Gerling is an Assistant Professor at KU Leuven, Belgium. Her work broadly falls into Human- Computer Interaction and Physical Computing. She is particularly interested in how interfaces can be made accessible for audiences with special needs, and how playful interactive technologies can be leveraged to support well-being. Kathrin previously held an appointment as Senior Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the University of Lincoln, UK. She received a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, and completed an MSc in Cognitive Science at the University of Duisburg- Essen, Germany.