Measuring and Understanding Resilience

Alternate Reality Game - LUX

LUX is developed through an iterative design process created with the goal of engaging undergrads at UCSC main campus in a game that uses the campus and the UCSC history. From there, we went through a series of brainstorming phases until we settled in what became The name LUX itself was inspired and is used here as a direct reference to UCSC’s motto “Let There Be Light”, which then became a core part of the narrative.

Narrative: The narrative proceeds as follows: A mysterious group calling themselves Kerr’s Loyalists (after the founder, Clark Kerr) are looking to hire a group of talented students at UCSC. They claim to be looking into UCSC’s hidden history, and ask the students to help them solve an old crime that happened in UCSC in the 80s. An ancient artefact got stolen, right in the middle of campus. It did not make the news, because UCSC hid the truth, claiming they still have the artefact. However, what the players are not told is that Kerr’s Loyalists have an ulterior motive. This requires a little historical knowledge of UCSC. When UCSC started, it was a different campus than most other universities in the UC system when it was formed in the 60s: It did not give its students grades and was a lot more freeform in its requirements for its students. This all changed over the last decades, as grades were first introduced as an option in the 80s and then a requirement in the 2000s [refs for all that]. Kerr’s Loyalists (back in fiction), wants to get back to that idyll of the 60s—a perhaps noble goal but their way of achieving it are terrible. The players are then taken through this world, solving puzzles to reveal clues about the different characters and actors in this unfolding narrative that bridges on conspiracy, mischief, and different values and principles. As the narrative progresses the players will see themselves torn between different groups or characters. They will need to make decisions, reveal the mystery and stop the wrong group from taking over the campus.

LUX will blend between reality and fiction, which is the intend. The game is designed to be played over several weeks with several teams of 3-4 each.



Video of LUX


Resilience, the ability of a person to manage their own anxiety and cope with a changing environment, is a key psychological construct that is becoming increasingly salient in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events and political and social unrest. This project aims to investigate the development of an Alternate Reality Game to allow us to measure resilience as well as use it as an intervention to cultivate social structures necessary to increase and enhance resilience.

Advantages of using ARGs: They has the potential to transform psychology research, including an environment where researchers can: (1) observe participants in a (semi-)controlled manner through real-world temporal interactions, (2) engage participants over time with real consequences, (3) systematically and automatically collect multidimensional context-rich data about participants’

actions and the settings within which these actions are made as well as deliver surveys over time, (4) scale and replicate studies with 100s to potentially 1000s of participants, and (5) allow precise modeling and measurement of team and individual behaviors.

Play the Game

As an alternate reality game, LUX is only playable in fixed amounts of time and space. So far, we ran the game on multiple occasions and are already planning for the next events:

  • Winter 2021 (completed)

  • Fall 2022 (completed)

  • February 2023 (expect our flyers and emails)

  • March 2023 (expect our flyers and emails)

If you are keen on participating in the future, you can inform your interest/pre-register at the contact mail above!


  • Habibi, R., Pfau, J., Holmes, J., and Seif El-Nasr, M. (2022). EAI: Empathetic AI for Empowering Resilience in Games. AIIDE Workshop on Experimental AI in Games.

  • Habibi, R., Maram, S., Pfau, J., Wei, J., Sisodiya, S., Kashani, A., Carstensdottir, E., and Seif El-Nasr, M. (2022). A Data-Driven Design of AR Alternate Reality Games to Measure Resilience. HCII (Best Paper)



Magy Seif El-Nasr, PI, Professor, Computational Media

Elin Carstensdottir, Co-PI, Assistant Professor, Computational Media

Johannes Pfau, Post Doctoral Fellow, Computational Media

Reza Habibi, PhD Student, Computational Media

Atieh Kashani, PhD Student, Computational Media

Bjarke Alexander Larsen, PhD Student, Computational Media

Zhaoqing Teng, PhD Student, Computational Media

Sai Siddartha Maram, PhD Student, Computational Media

Shweta Sisodiya, PhD Student, Computational Media

Mansi Saini, CS Game Design Undergraduate Student, Computational Media, UCSC

Brandon Lee, Computer Science Undergraduate Student, UCSC

Lyssa Li, Undergraduate Student

Anuraag Girdhar, Volunteer

Jason Xu, Volunteer

Jiahong Li, Master's Student, Santa Clara University


Guy Timpanaro, Software Developer, GUII Lab, Computational Media

Krishna Thiruvengadam, Games and Playable Media Master's Student, Computational Media

Jessica Wei, Serious Games Master's Student, Computational Media