Award Winner Interview: Cindy Chamberland
Can you tell us a bit about the research you did through Mitacs Accelerate that led to you winning the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation – Post Doctoral?
The objective of my internship with Ubisoft Quebec was to examine whether the analysis of eye movement during videogames can serve as a tool to assess cognitive processes involved in the game, and as a mean to augment traditional usability testing and the assessment of fun. The pattern of results showed a relationship between game outcome and players' eye movement. For example, we were able to identify which information the gamer should look at on the interface to increase its probability of success in the game. Results also strongly suggest that one should take into account human cognitive limitations when designing videogames. For example, we showed that gamers could suffer from inattentional blindness (IB) when navigating through a tutorial or playing the game; IB is a phenomenon that refers to the failure of noticing changes in a visual scene when one is under high workload.
What is the greatest advantage you feel you gained through your internship? What does it bring to your research or professional career?
The Mitacs Accelerate program allowed me to work on an innovative project that is in sync with the future of a flourishing industry, especially in a city like Québec where many of the big players of the video game world work hard at developing new and cutting edge approaches to create new gaming experiences. It is also a unique opportunity for me to reach out to a whole new spectrum of professionals with whom I am likely to pursue this type of research and exchange ideas and concerns about the future of a partnership between cognitive sciences and game development.
What advice would you give other PhD students currently considering a Mitacs Accelerate internship?
Students should be proactive, reach out to companies, and not underestimate their interest in research!
What was the highlight of your Mitacs Accelerate internship?
The highlight of my internship was definitely the presentation of my work to the different actors of the game developing world at Ubisoft, sharing with them the work that can be done in cognitive psychology, how it can be applied to very concrete situations like game design, and how a tight collaboration between two cutting edge disciplines can be beneficial for both parties.
What are your future plans? Where do you see yourself in five years?
In the near future, I aspire to work as a university professor and share my knowledge and experience with students, guide them through their research and help them reach their goals as future scientists. I would also manage my own research laboratory in which my students could also work and collaborate on more cutting-edge research like this one, and maybe pursue this cross-pollination between domains that may seem different at first glance, but in reality, aim at similar goals.