Michael Lankes

Michael is working as a professor at the Digital Media department of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria on the topics game art & design as well as usability & interaction design. Since 2017 he is also the head of the research group Playful Interactive Environments (PIE). His expertise ranges from VR in games, serious games in the health domain, to playful interactions supported by nonverbal communication channels, which has been documented in more than 40 publications. Lankes established a strong track record in the field of gaze-based interactions in games, disseminating his work to journals and workshops. He is an active member of the HCI games community by co-organizing conferences.

Talk Outline

The Power of Social Gaze in Games

Gaze-based interactions have found their way into the games domain. “AAA games” such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, support eye-tracking devices to grant players a more natural form of game interaction. Furthermore, hardware devices (e.g., the HTC Vive Pro Eye) indicate that this technology might play an essential role in the following years. Currently, many gaze-supported games use gaze input as a supporting element and, in some cases, as a complete replacement for mouse input and game controllers.

Besides that, the inclusion of gaze has the potential to enrich social interactions by adding a valuable channel of non-verbal communication between players. Social gaze regulates information flow, turn-taking, and mediates shared attention on an area of interest. Gazing at an object during an interaction can also establish a mutual understanding of what is being discussed. In this talk, the concept of social gaze will be introduced, and different case studies will be presented that illustrate the design potentials and pitfalls. The talk shall provide insights for researchers and designers that are interested in games in general and that are keen on employing and investigating social gaze in their research projects.

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