Rilla Khaled

Associate Professor

  Concordia University


Ph.D. Computer Science, 2004 — 2008

Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Thesis: Culturally-Relevant Persuasive Technology

Established persuasive technology strategies grounded in cross-cultural psychology research, designed and developed two persuasive video games to educate players about quitting smoking based on those strategies. Evaluation using quantitative and qualitative analyses showed that both games had a significant effect.


B.Sc. Hons. Computer Science 2002

Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Thesis: Aspect-Oriented Visualisation

Investigated the capacities of AspectJ for software visualisation, developed a small- scale visualisation framework for Java programs using AspectJ.


B.Sc. Computer Science 1999 – 2001

Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Computer science courses included software design, algorithms, database theory, computer networking, artificial intelligence, and programming languages. Courses outside of computer science included French and Logic, both pursued to 300-level.



Lead game designer in two large-scale EU FP7 projects: 2010 – 2013, 2012 – 2015

2010 – 2013 I served as lead designer on the award-winning conflict-resolution learning game Village Voices, which merged postcognitivist theories of learning with advanced game technology. 2012 – 2015 I served as lead game designer on the game Words Matter, a game that teaches literacy skills to players with dyslexia. Words Matter is being rolled out nationwide in Malta as part of the “one tablet per child” initiative.


Director of Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) Research Centre at Concordia University

2017-2019, June 2020-onwards.

I served as director for the TAG Research Centre.

TAG is Canada’s oldest, largest, and most interdisciplinary games research centre, and has 73 members: 18 faculty members, and 55 graduate and postdoc members. While I am currently on maternity leave, I will resume directorship in June 2020


FRQSC research-creation grant on Speculative Play, 2016 – 2020

I lead a research-creation grant titled Speculative Play. This project concerns exploring, experimenting with, and capturing how speculative design drawing on playful interactivity can be brought to objects and experiences. The objectives of the project include refining speculative design knowledge through research- creation, examining what happens when playfully interactive speculative design is released in the wild, and developing soft criteria for what it means for speculative design to be impactful.


Critical Hit Parallax summer school between Concordia University and Indienova,

2018 – ongoing

Under my direction, TAG has established a biannual indie game design summer school — Critical Hit Parallax — for Chinese students in collaboration with the Chinese game portal Indienova. The school is a key instance of Concordia’s initiative to develop collaborations with China, it is a source of work experience for TAG graduate students, and also generates revenue to support TAG overhead costs.




  • Khaled, R. Speculative Play: Dystopian Near Futures. GAMES++, Wellington, 2019 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Researching Game Design. Chinese DiGRA, Shenzen, 2018 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Representation Runs Code-Deep. Games and Graphics as Resur- gence and Presence Panel, 3rd Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary, Winnipeg, 2017.
  • Khaled, R. Neoqab: Speculative Play. Walrus Talks, Toronto, 2017.
  • Khaled, R. Speculative Play: Collisions between speculative design & play. UQAM, Montreal, 2017.
  • Khaled, R. Representation Runs Code-Deep. Let’s Talk Gaming, Montreal, 2017.
  • Khaled, R. Speculative Play: Creating collisions between critical and speculative design & game design and play. Institute of Education, UCL, London, 2016.
  • Khaled, R., and Lewis, J. The Centrality of Marginality: Speculative Play About Memory, Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Digital Arts. Common Aliens: Diaspora in Time, Montreal, 2016.
  • Khaled, R. Reality Bites, or 10 Things Serious Game Researchers Will Never Admit to Doing but Do Anyway. GDC Education Summit, San Francisco, 2015.
  • Khaled, R. Reflektors. Screenshake Game Festival, Antwerp, Belgium, 2015.
  • Khaled, R. Dyslexia and Games: Learn Better? Cafe Scientifique, Malta, 2015.
  • Khaled, R. What We Talk About When We Talk About Procedural Content Generation. IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, Dortmund, Germany, 2014 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Questions over Answers: Reflective Game Design. Critical Hit, Montreal, 2014.
  • Khaled, R. Questions over Answers: Reflective Game Design. A MAZE Berlin, Germany, 2014.
  • Khaled, R. Games and Learning. Annual Conference of the Association of MultiMediaDesign Teachers in Denmark, Middelfart, Denmark, 2013 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Gamification Panel. Creativity Meeting Point 2013, Bilbao, Spain, 2013.
  • Khaled, R. Serious Games. Animated Learning Conference, Viborg, Denmark, 2012.
  • Khaled, R. Bringing Culture Into Focus. Mensch & Computer 2012, Konstanz, Germany, 2012 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Tales from the Front Lines of a Large-Scale Serious Games Project. Alignment Summer School of the Games and Learning Alliance Network of Excellence for Serious Games, Lisbon, Portugal, 2012.
  • Khaled, R. Participatory Approaches to Persuasive Technology. Games, Life, and Utopia, Berlin, Germany, 2011 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Just Add People: Games for Health Meets Participatory Design. Games for Health Europe 2011, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2011.
  • Khaled, R. Participatory Game Design. WIGSIG, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2011.
  • Khaled, R. Serious Games. NEXT conference, Aarhus, Denmark, 2010 (keynote).
  • Khaled, R. Serious Games. Lecture for Danskernes Akademi TV series aired on DR2, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2009.
  • Khaled, R. and Barr, P. StoryTrek: Stories and Play in Motion. Narrative Strategies in Digital Arts, Oslo School of Architecture & Design (AHO), Oslo, Norway, 2009.