Sep 12 2009


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Abstracts Hidden/Shown

Minh Q. Tran and Robert Biddle. An ethnographic study of collaboration in a game development team. Loading, 3(5), 2009.

Abstract: This paper presents an ethnographically-informed study of the practices at a game company that develops serious games for business training. Games research focuses mainly on the game product, paying little attention to the design and development process. This study attempts to address this gap. We examined the day-to-day activity of a team responsible for designing and developing game content. Our data collection methods were informed by ethnography; they include field observations, contextual interviews and audio recordings. A thematic analysis was performed on transcripts of naturally occurring conversation within the team. The results were triangulated with field notes and interview data. The result is a description of collaborative activity within a game development team, and an interpretation of how the socio-technical environment supported the game development process. This study suggests innovative game design can be supported by creating a culture of collaboration, but innovation from teams is largely dependent on the quality of the interpersonal relationships.


Robert Biddle, Tara Whalen, Andrew S. Patrick, Jennifer Sobey, P.C. van Oorschot. Browser Interfaces and Extended Validation SSL Certificates: An Empirical Study. ACM Cloud Computing Security Workshop. Chicago, USA, November 2009.

There has been a loss of confidence in the security provided by SSL certificates and browser interfaces in the face of var- ious attacks. As one response, basic SSL server certificates are being demoted to second-class status in conjunction with the introduction of Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates. Unfortunately, EV SSL certificates may complicate the already difficult design challenge of effectively conveying certificate information to the average user. This study explores the interfaces related to SSL certificates in the most widely deployed browser (Internet Explorer 7), proposes an alternative set of interface dialogs, and compares their effec- tiveness through a user study involving 40 participants. The alternative interface was found to offer statistically significant improvements in confidence, ease of finding information, and ease of understanding. Such results from a modest re-design effort suggest considerable room for improvement in the user interfaces of browsers today. This work motivates further study of whether EV SSL certificates offer a robust foundation for improving Internet trust, or a further compromise to usable security for ordinary users.


Sonia Chiasson, Alain Forget, Elizabeth Stobert, P.C. van Oorschot, and Robert Biddle, Multiple password interference in text and click-based graphical passwords. ACM Computer and Communications Security (CCS), Chicago, USA, November 2009.

The underlying issues relating to the usability and security of mul- tiple passwords are largely unexplored. However, we know that people generally have difficulty remembering multiple passwords. This reduces security since users reuse the same password for dif- ferent systems or reveal other passwords as they try to log in. We report on a laboratory study comparing recall of multiple ordinary text passwords with recall of multiple click-based graphical pass- words. In a one-hour session (short-term), we found that partici- pants in the graphical password condition coped significantly better than those in the text password condition. In particular, they made fewer errors when recalling their passwords, did not resort to cre- ating passwords directly related to account names, and did not use similar passwords across multiple accounts. After two weeks, par- ticipants in the two conditions had recall success rates that were not statistically different from each other, but those with text passwords made more recall errors than participants with graphical passwords. In our study, click-based graphical passwords were significantly less susceptible to multiple password interference in the short-term, while having comparable usability to text passwords in most other respects.


Brian Greenspan, Rilla Khaled, Pippin Barr, Christopher Eaket, and Robert Biddle. Linking narrative
and locative media. In Proceedings of Media in Transition 6: Stone and
Papyrus, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009. MIT.

Abstract: Is hypertext a time-biased or a space-biased medium?  Harold Innis himself might have had difficulty deciding.  The grand historical metanarrative that Innis undertook in The Bias of Communication (1951) charts the evolution of Western imperialism in relation to various communications media, including cuneiform, papyrus, the sidereal calendar, universal weights and measures, birch bark canoes, the telegraph, newspapers and radio.  In Innis’s scheme, the material characteristics of each medium exhibits a specific “communications bias,” depending on whether it is “better suited to the dissemination of knowledge over time than over space” (Innis, “Bias” 33). Locative media return the sense of “grounded place and time” to digital networks, by infusing geographical sites with historical context–in particular, the indigenous, immigrant, environmental, and other “minor” histories effaced by imperialism and the project of modernity.  With locative media, space no longer acts as the ground against which communication technologies are measured, but instead becomes the figure of mediality itself.  StoryTrek is a prototype locative hypernarrative system that radically alters our understanding of time- and space-biased media.  Our system is based upon narrative and navigational patterns rather than waypoints, providing continuous feedback of live, richly contextual information in narrative form, matched to the user’s route and location.


Sonia Chiasson, Alain Forget, Paul van Oorschot, and Robert Biddle. User interface design affects
security: Patterns in click-based graphical passwords. International Journal of Information Security,
To Appear, 2009.

Abstract: Design of the user interface for authentication systems influences users and may encourage either secure or insecure behaviour. Using data from four different but closely related click-based graphical password studies, we show that user-selected passwords vary considerably in their predictability.  Our post-hoc analysis looks at click-point patterns within passwords and shows that PassPoints passwords follow distinct patterns. Our analysis shows that many patterns appear across a range of images, thus motivating attacks which are independent of specific background images. Conversely, Cued Click-Points (CCP) and Persuasive Cued Click-Points (PCCP) passwords are nearly in- distinguishable from those of a randomly-generated simulated dataset. These results provide insight on modeling effective password spaces and on how user interface characteristics lead to more (or less) security resulting from user behaviour.


Rilla Khaled, Pippin Barr, James Noble, Ronald Fisher, and Robert Biddle. Game design strategies
for collectivist persuasion. ACM Transactions on Graphics, To Appear, 2009.

Abstract: A fundamental feature of serious games is persuasion, an attempt to influence behaviors, feelings, or thoughts about an issue, object, or action. Serious games and, more generally, persuasive technologies (PT) are currently being developed to address a variety of issues.  Much of the existing research on these domains, however, does not address the important links between persuasion and culture: it orig- inates from western, individualist cultures, and has focused on how to design for these audiences. In this paper, we describe the design of one of two versions of a serious game we developed about quitting smoking, targeted at collectivist players. We show how the design was informed by persuasive game design strategies intended for use in tools for users of collectivist cultures: HARMONY, GROUP OPINION, MONITORING, DISESTABLISHING, and TEAM PERFORMANCE. We then discuss the results of a quantitative investigation of the effects of both game versions on both individualist and collectivist players.


Rilla Khaled, Pippin Barr, Hannah Johnston, and Robert Biddle. Exploring multi-touch collaborative
play. In CHI ’09: CHI ’09 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, New York, NY,
USA, 2009. ACM.

Abstract:  Multi-touch play is inherently collaborative, but little work explores the experiences of players or the factors involved. In this paper we present preliminary observations of multi-touch collaborative game play. Our experiences shed light on aspects of tabletop collaboration, the physical-social environment of a multi-touch surface, and technical issues surrounding video game development for this medium.


Alain Forget, Sonia Chiasson, and Robert Biddle. Lessons from brain age on persuasion for computer
security. In CHI ’09: CHI ’09 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, New York,
NY, USA, 2009. ACM.

Abstract: Users generally have difficulty understanding and managing computer security tasks. We examined Nintendo’s Brain Age games for ways to help users remember more secure passwords. Instead, we discovered design elements that encouraged users to continually perform cognitive tasks that would otherwise be tedious. This paper discusses these elements using Persuasive Technology principles, and explores how they could be leveraged to make computer security tasks easier and more enjoyable.


Claire Dormann and Robert Biddle. Humor for computer games: Play, laugh and more. Simulation &
Gaming, To Appear:16 pages, 2009.

Abstract: Computer games are now becoming ways to communicate, teach, and influence attitudes and behavior. In this article we address the subject of humor in computer games, especially in support of serious purposes. We begin with a review of the main theories of humor, including superiority, incongruity, and relief. These theories and their inter-relationships do well in helping understand the humor process, but have been developed in contexts of traditional human activity. To explore how they relate to computer games, we present findings of a qualitative study of player experience of humor, and show how it relates to the theoretical perspectives. We then review the main functions of humor, especially the effects on social, emotional, and cognitive behavior. We show how each of these functions can be used in game design to support specific experiences and outcomes of game-play. Finally, we address the issue of serious games, and make suggestions on how humor can inform and support the design of those games. We suggest that humor can support design by smoothing and sustaining the game mechanics. Moreover, games can draw on the functions of humor in the real world for enhancing communication, learning and social presence. Using humor makes games richer and more powerful, as well as fun.


Angela Martin, James Noble, and Robert Biddle. XP customer practices: A grounded theory. In
Proceedings of the Agile Software Development Conference (Agile2009), Chicago, USA, 2009. IEEE.

Abstract: The Customer is a critical role in XP, but almost all XP practices are presented for developers by developers. While XP calls for Real Customer Involvement, it does not explain what XP Customers should do, nor how they should do it. Using Grounded Theory, we discovered eight customer practices used by successful XP teams: Customer Boot Camp, Customer’s Apprentice, Customer Pairing, and Programmer’s Holiday support the well-being and effectiveness of customers; Programmer On-site and Roadshows support team and organization interactions; and Big Picture Up Front and Re-calibration support Customers steering the whole project. By adopting these processes, XP Customers and teams can work faster and more sustainably.


Angela Martin, James Noble, and Robert Biddle. The XP customer team: A grounded theory. In
Proceedings of the Agile Software Development Conference (Agile2009), Chicago, USA, 2009. IEEE.

Abstract:  The initial definition of XP resulted in many people interpreting the on-site customer to be a single person. We have conducted extensive qualitative research studying XP teams, and one of our research questions was “who is the customer”? We found that, rather than a single person, a customer team always exists. In this paper we outline the different roles that were typically on the team, which range from the recognized “Acceptance Tester” role to the less recognized roles of “Political Advisor” and “Super-Secretary”.