Special Seminar: Elisa Mekler "Mattering and Feeling: Motivational and Emotional Aspects of User Experience and Games"

This talk is arranged at the Department of Computer Science and it's open to everyone free-of-charge. The talk will take place at 09:00 (sharp!) in hall AS1, TUAS building.

Mattering and Feeling: Motivational and Emotional Aspects of User Experience and Games

Elisa Mekler


The question of what constitutes good interaction is key to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Ever since information technology has entered our free time, user experience (UX) and games research are replete with concepts from motivational and emotional psychology. For instance, good interaction is typically equated with intrinsic motivation and positive affect, while extrinsic motivation and negative affect are to be minimized. Despite the pervasiveness of these notions in HCI, however, research often showcases a fragmented, narrow or even misleading understanding of these concepts. In this talk, I present examples from my research, where by leveraging psychological theories and methods we challenge assumptions in extant UX and games research. First, I introduce the User Motivation Inventory, a theory-based questionnaire we developed to assess motivation beyond the simplistic intrinsic - extrinsic dichotomy, and examine its relation to user experience and the intention to stoping using a technology. Second, I discuss my work around emotional game experiences as an example of worthwhile interactions, which run counter to and extend commonly accepted assumptions in games research. I conclude with a discussion of future research plans, which draw from motivational psychology and psychology of aesthetic emotions to advance conceptual and empirical problem-solving in UX and games research.


Elisa Mekler is a post-doctoral fellow and research director of the Human-Computer Interaction group at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Basel, Switzerland. Her core research interests concern the motivational and emotional processes underlying user experience and games. In particular, Mekler studies how interactive systems afford emotional, reflective and meaningful experiences, as well as the challenges inherent to defining and evaluating these concepts. Her publications have received Best Paper and Honourable Mention awards at the leading human-computer interaction conferences CHI and CHI PLAY.

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