I'm a research scientist at Ubisoft studying gamer behavior. My research focuses on online games and virtual worlds.

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I was born and grew up in Hong Kong. I came to the US when I was 14 for boarding school. I then went to Haverford College outside of Philadelphia where I majored in Psychology with a concentration in Computer Science.

It was while I was at Haverford that I met Doug Davis in my second-year methods sequence, where he taught us how to create web pages and online surveys (in 1998!--before blogs and survey tools became mainstream).

During my junior year, two seniors a year ahead of me (Mike Oswalt and Adam Correia) did their theses on the personality differences among gamers of different video game genres. One of those genres was the MMORPG. And so the department went out and got us a copy so we could try it out. I was the lab techie then and also helping Doug with other technical things so installed the game for them. The year was 1999 and the game was EverQuest, which at that point had been out for a little over a year.

For some reason, I was the only one of the three who enjoyed playing the game. Later that year, I worked with Doug on an independent study exploring EverQuest players via online surveys with mostly qualitative questions. When my senior year came around, I did a much larger survey project of EverQuest focusing on quantitative data as part of my senior thesis. From the beginning, I was interested in multiple aspects of this research. First of all, there was the interest in online games and their potential. Second, it let me experiment with technology in collecting data and presenting the research. And finally, I enjoyed the sustained interaction with the player community.

After undergrad, I worked for 2 years in an R&D lab in Accenture. And even while I was working full-time, I continued to do the survey research on the side. The Daedalus Project was created at this point in time. Up to this point, I had used individual online reports to present my findings and it was becoming cumbersome and disorganized. So in early 2003, I migrated to a bloggish front-end to facilitate indexing and archiving. Since I was spending so much time researching online games, I finally decided to apply to grad school.

I started grad school at Stanford in the Fall of 2003 in the Department of Communication. At Stanford, I worked with Jeremy Bailenson in conducting experimental research in immersive virtual environments. We were interested in understanding how reality could be broken in productive ways, and what it meant to be in digital bodies.

Starting the summer of 2005 as a summer intern, I also had the opportunity to work with PARC's PlayOn group in analyzing aggregate-level data. That internship grew into a full-time position after I finished my graduate program. Together with Nic Ducheneaut, I eventually led a 3-year government-funded study of how our offline identities can be inferred from our behaviors in an online game.

In 2012, a serendipitous meeting with researchers at Ubisoft led to a tough decision to leave PARC. Ubisoft was exploring ways in which social science theories and methods could inform game design and analytics. My interests and background dove-tailed with their research direction. And of course, as an academic, the hardest thing to get is game data. So in August of 2012, I started as a senior research scientist at Ubisoft, where to my surprise, my highschool-level French has come in handy.

 

The Daedalus Project
Stanford VR Lab
PARC PlayOn Group
   
Amber
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