• Source: Scopus
20132021

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Personal profile

Research profile

Max Birk is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology. With an interdisciplinary background, Max draws from psychology, interaction design, data science, and game design, to investigate the effects of game-based design strategies on mental processes and design-induced behaviour change. His research contributes to games user research, digital health, and motivational interface design. He is interested in projects contributing to a healthy society, improving entertainment experiences (e.g., eSports), and developing tools and methods for researching interactive experiences. 

Max' research has been published more than 25 times in international top HCI venues, and he has contributed to research on player experience, individual differences in play, task adherence, crowdsourcing, and on the intersection between video games and mental health. He has organized well-received workshops across the globe and led research projects spanning multiple continents. Max has collaborated with game-designers in North America, Europe, and China, and experience working with independent developers like AlienTrap and global tech companies like Tencent.

Academic background

Max Birk received his graduate degree in Psychology from the University of Trier, Germany, in 2012. Under the supervision of Dr. Regan Mandryk, he completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, in 2018. During his Ph.D., Max investigated avatar customization as a motivational design strategy to increase engagement with technology-enabled services for health. He received several awards, including the Governor General’s Gold Medal, the Bill Buxton Award, the University of Saskatchewan Doctoral Dissertation Award, the GSA Excellence of the Science Award, and 4 ACM honorable mentions or best paper awards.

Max is technical program co-chair for CHI PLAY 2020, and an editor for JMIR Serious Games. He co-organized the Spotlight track for CHI PLAY 2017, CHI PLAY 2018, and the Interactivity track for CHI PLAY 2019. As the Assistant to the General Chairs, Max was part of the organizational team of CHI 2018 in Montréal. Max frequently contributes to venues such as CHI, CHI PLAY, JMIR, IJHCS, or ToCHI.

Education and Teaching

 

Expertise

User & Society with competences in motivational psychology, differential psychology, experimental design, quantitative methods, psychometric assessment, crowdsourcing, and games for mental health. Math, Data, and Computing with competences in experimental statistics, user modelling, web programming, data handling, predictive modelling, and comparative statistics. Creativity and Aesthetics with competences in game design, games user research, interaction design, and web design.


Squad: Games and Play

Research focus, project topics I like to coach

“I would like to coach students with an interest to develop their technical background in digital game technologies (MDC, TR) and game-design (CA), or with an interest in mental health on the level of individual illnesses and societal implications (US), or who have an interest in learning quantitative evaluation techniques and research methods (MDC, US).”

Vision on education/coaching
“I believe in choice and autonomy in defining project directions. Decisions how to advance, where exactly to focus should be with a student—my job is in creating the context to make decisions while being aware of their consequences.

My coaching is informed by self-determination theory and developed around three socio-contextual pillars:

-Relatedness is the foundation of my work. I believe that it is important to be embedded in thriving social groups and to feel connected to fellow students, while being aware that I am available as a coach to help in overcoming barriers. I create small, regular social gatherings and reduce communication barriers using technology.

-The experience of competence development is evident in the choice of a project and a student’s skills. While I am happy to focus on developing new skills, at the core of my work, I believe that it is important to foster existing skills and interests and to play to ones strength to develop advanced skill level and experience true mastery.”

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

External positions

Member, Eindhoven Young Academy of Engineering

1 Oct 20211 Oct 2025

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