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Katherine Isbister

Katherine Isbister is a Human Computer Interaction and Games researcher who studies and designs digital games and other playful computer-supported experiences. Her focus is emotion and social connection–understanding the impact of design choices on these qualities, and getting better at making and evaluating digital experiences that support and enhance social and emotional experience. Her lab group’s work has been cited in Wired, Scientific American, and NPR, among other venues.

Isbister is currently a full professor in the Department of Computational Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is a core faculty member in the Center for Games and Playable Media. Until June 2015, she was an associate professor jointly appointed between the Computer Science department at New York University’s School of Engineering in Brooklyn, and the NYU Game Center, and was the founding Research Director of the Game Innovation Lab at NYU’s School of Engineering.
After completing a Ph.D. at Stanford University, where she studied Communication as well as Human-Computer Interaction, Isbister worked in research labs in Japan, Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S., and in software start-ups and design consultancies (past clients include Microsoft, Paramount, BMW, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and others), in addition to being a research professor. Along the way, she has written several books: Better Game Characters by Design,Game Usability, and most recently, How Games Move Us. Better Game Characters was nominated for a Game Developer Magazine Frontline Award. In 1999, she was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s TR100 Young Innovators most likely to shape the future of technology.