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Office Location

440 Huntington Avenue
466 West Village H
Boston, MA 02115


  • BS in Computer Science, Reykjavik University – Iceland

About Me

  • Hometown: Akranes, Iceland
  • Field of Study: Game User Research, Interactive Narrative
  • PhD Advisor: Magy Seif El-Nasr


Elin Carstensdottir is a PhD student studying game user experience, interactive narrative, and game design support tools at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences, advised by Professor Magy Seif El-Nasr. Elin’s research focuses on user experience design and automated playtesting, specifically for interactive narrative systems and game interfaces. Her research has included work on virtual conversation agents and human behavior simulations, among other topics. She is in the Playable Innovative Technologies Laboratory and has worked on several game user research projects in addition to conversation agent research. She is interested in examining the various ways specific design elements of interactive narrative interfaces and mechanics in video games impact the player experience. Elin earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Reykjavik University in Iceland.

What are the specifics of your graduate education (thus far)?

Thus far I have worked on a variety of different projects, such as building a non-verbal behavior model for a virtual conversation agent which combined a personality trait theory and theatre methods.

Other projects include evaluating user experience in games meant to crowdsource solutions for software verification, and building an interactive narrative social skill training platform where we utilize crowdsourcing and theatre methods to build computational methods to generate narrative content for social skill training.

Currently, I am working on projects that examine how game design impacts user experience and building predictive models for automated playtesting.

What are your research interests?

My focus is on game user oriented research questions for interactive narrative and game design, in particular, those that pertain to how users interact with interactive narrative artifacts, and how this interaction impacts their cognitive state and understanding of the narrative content.

What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?

Games have shown significant promise and potential as research environments and as a setting for interesting research of human behavior and cognitive processing. One central requirement of such an environment is targeted design to accurately and effectively capture the factors necessary for a successful experiment or study. This is still an open problem, but poses interesting possibilities. By focusing my research on the dynamics between design and player experience, I hope to help address this question.

What aspect of what you do is most interesting?

Games research is ironically not as specialized as it may appear at first. There are many interdisciplinary, interesting, and complex problems that arise due to the medium’s interactive nature. Games can also be used as a method of scientific exploration, for example for psychology and sociology experiments.

What fascinates me in particular is how the design of interaction within games influences experience and how this can lead to specific behaviors and cognitive states.

What are your research or career goals, going forward?

I want to continue exploring design considerations for human-computer interaction through video games.