Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series

In 2008, the School of Computer Science began an annual lecture series to present Computer Science research to the wider public. The lectures are named the "Gibbons Lectures" in memory of Associate Professor Peter Gibbons.

Associate Professor Peter Gibbons (1949-2008)
Associate Professor Peter Gibbons (1949-2008)

About Associate Professor Peter Gibbons

Peter Gibbons was a member of the University of Auckland's Department of Computer Science from its earliest days in 1980 until his retirement in 2004.

His began his academic career at Massey University, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Statistics with First-class Honours in 1970. This was followed in 1972 by a Master of Science in Computer Science with Distinction – the first degree in Computer Science awarded in New Zealand. He completed his PhD in Toronto then returned to New Zealand to lecture at Massey, before moving to the University of Auckland. His tenure included a three year stint as Head of Department. After retirement, Peter continued his association with the University under an honorary appointment.

The Gibbons Lectures fund

The prestige of these lectures and their permanence depends on funding. Click the link below to support the Gibbons Memorial Lecture series by gifting a one off or regular contribution.

2024 series

Computer gaming and eSports poster for the lecture series.

Computer gaming and eSports

Our gaming sector industry is a strong contributor to New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) , having generated more than $400 million in revenue in the fiscal year 2022. The demand for designers and developers in this industry is growing, with professionals in the area being highly sought after for their multifaceted skill set, encompassing creativity, technical acumen, complex problem-solving abilities, effective communication skills, and a passion for video games.

eSports competitions involve professional gamers engaging collectively in gameplay, captivating audiences as spectators. eSports attained official recognition as a sport in New Zealand in 2020 and has emerged as a significant facet of the gaming industry.

This lecture series is designed to address key aspects within the gaming landscape, encompassing game design and development, the intricacies of eSport game design, and pathways to becoming a proficient eSports player.

This lecture series is funded by the Royal Society, Gibbons Lecture Fund, School of Computer Science and Auckland ICT Graduate School.

eSport game design: designing for engagement

Simon McCallum

Victoria University of Wellington

One of the largest challenges for society is disengagement, with education, health care, and civil society. One of the societal challenges of AI is people allowing the AI to make decisions for them and disengaging with thinking. We need to find activities which are cognitively challenging and rewarding, we need games. Games are increasingly the leisure activity of choice in both young and old. Games are engagement engines. Understanding how to design games and how they engage players is critical for understanding how we shape activities to engage the public.

Why are games so engaging? How do we design for engagement? How are esports games designed? In this talk Simon will discuss engagement in games, what they tell us about motivation, and how game designers balance games.

Event date: 
Thursday 2 May 2024

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Beyond Entertainment: Serious Games for Education, Training, and Healthcare

Burkhard Wünsche

University of Auckland

Serious games are games designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. They can be effective where traditional approaches don’t work because tasks are repetitive, stressful, time-consuming, or users lack motivation.

In this talk we focus on serious games for education, training, and healthcare. We will provide an overview of the history of this field and the current state-of-the-art using as examples both commercial games and research. Along the way, we will discuss advantages, limitations, and risks of serious games and under what circumstances such games are likely to work best.

Additionally, we’ll explore how modern technologies, such as AR and VR, can help to make serious games even more effective. The talk will conclude with an exploration of emerging trends and possible future developments.

Event Date: Thursday 9 May 2024

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Meet the people who play eSports

Panel host: Gillian Dobbie

People are attracted to sport for different reasons, e.g., their mother or aunt played the sport, or there was a teacher that inspired them at school. The panel features four people who are passionate about eSport either as players or coordinators of eSport competitions. The discussion will cover what the eSport scene looks like in Aotearoa, the games that are played, what attracted the panellists to eSports, how competitions run, and much more.


Reagan Kelly is an active competitor within the global eSports industry, for the game Street Fighter. A representative for the national esports team, the E Blacks, Reagan placed 3rd at the Global eSports Games in Istanbul in 2022.

Varun Modi is a prolific commentator within the eSports industry of New Zealand. Varun provides the voice, storytelling and charisma to some of the highest quality eSports events within the country.

David Douglas has managed the production and organisation of the largest fighting game tournaments across New Zealand since 2011. David provides a view into the eSports industry from the standpoint of an event organiser.

Lizzie Corbett is a high-level eSports competitor within New Zealand, having placed second at the New Zealand Fighting Game Nationals in 2019 for Samurai Showdown. Lizzie offers a lens into how eSports and computer science are connected, and how they can cooperate.

Event Date: Thursday 23 May 2024

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