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  • BA in Computer Science and Neuroscience, Colgate University

About Me


Josh Miller is a PhD student studying game-user interaction and games with a purpose at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences, mentored by Professors Seth Cooper and Magy Seif El-Nasr. Josh’s research focuses on synthesizing game design principles with the psychology of learning and motivation to create seamless and engaging user experiences in non-game contexts. He is interested in creating playful, flow-state experiences for educational contexts. Josh earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science and neuroscience from Colgate University in New York.

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

My research so far has focused on improving the tutorial of Foldit, the protein-folding puzzle game. By grounding the design in Self-Determination Theory and Cognitive Load Theory, I am able to craft a more intuitive experience for new players.

What are your research interests?

I am interested in game-user interaction, games with a purpose, game design, and the psychology of learning and motivation. Together, these interests become the discovery of playful elements of non-game contexts. I also focus on minimizing cognitive load while maximizing engagement and retention, by synthesizing grounded theories and industry practices and principles.

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

Using games as a tool for formal and informal learning is currently an unsolved problem. How do learning and play relate? What is the core experience of discovering new things, and can we build a game or interface around that to enable players to explore new topics in an enjoyable and casual way? This work could unlock new questions into how we understand education, intrinsic motivation, play-ability, and playfulness.

What aspect of what you do is most interesting?

Games are one of the newest forms of art, and one of the only forms that are interactive. They are so nascent that no one has realized their full potential as a set of tools which enable problem-solving and human expression from a unique perspective. Truly, this field is the research of playful problem-solving, and it is so enjoyable to be a part of it.

What are your research or career goals, going forward?

I’m currently looking toward the design of transformational games: making games which are both transformational in their own right and help advance the theory of designing good transformational games.