Many of us struggled since the first lockdown with tools like Zoom for the different scenarios like digital teaching, collaboration, or social interactions. Especially interactions with larger groups still poses often a challenge. In contrast, the games industry has had years of experience creating virtual worlds where thousands of users can fight virtual dragons at the same time. No wonder that all the sudden weddings, birthday celebrations, or even scientific conferences were organized in video games like Animal Crossing instead of Zoom. Games are known as tool to build communities, to meet new friends, and to have valuable social experiences. In this talk, Johanna Pirker wants to show the potential of games, game-based applications and virtual worlds to welcome newcomers even in new communities.
Dr. Johanna Pirker (Dr. tech. Dipl.Ing. BSc in Software Engineering and Economics and Computer Science from Graz University of Technology) is assistant professor, software engineer, and researcher at the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science at Graz University of Technology (TUG). She finished her Master’s Thesis during a research visit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working on collaborative virtual world environments.
In 2017, she finished her doctoral dissertation in computer science on motivational environments under the supervision of Christian Gütl (TUG) and John Belcher (MIT). She specialized in games and environments that engage users to learn, train, and work together through motivating tasks. She has long-lasting experience in game design and development, as well as virtual world development and has worked in the video game industry at Electronic Arts. Her research interests include AI, data analysis, immersive environments (VR), games research, gamification strategies, HCI, e-learning, CSE, and IR. She has authored and presented numerous publications in her field and lectured at universitiessuch as Harvard, Berlin Humboldt Universität, or the University of Göttingen.
Johanna was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of science professionals, and was awarded the Futurezone Women in Tech Award(2019), the Käthe Leichter Award (2020), and the Hedy-Lamarr Award (2021).