Dr. Yi (Joy) Li’s current research focuses on affective gaming in healthcare, virtual reality, and human-computer interaction. She is the current faculty director of the Realities Lab. She has extensive experience in gamification in education and has collaborated with a number of local K-12 schools and universities on educational game design.

On-going research projects/educational projects

1.     Virtual Reality for Mental Disorders

A part of this project is in collaboration with Cumberland Acadamy to test with autistic children. They also involved with some of the game designs.

This is a main long-term research project. We developed an affective VR system that aims to induce different types of emotional reactions to users.  By instilling a sense of presence in the users through immersion and interaction, the system is able to impact on current user emotions.  Three emotional-laden VR game scenes and a psychomotor “reset” scene were carefully designed and developed with controlled variations in order to elicit targeted emotions. Physiological signals collected from a wearable device are used to monitor and analyze the dynamic emotional status.  Based on our previous research, we assume these emotional statuses will be different between the emotionally impaired groups and the control group.  Distinguishing the signs may give us evidence for early screening on the mental diseases related to emotional impairment, including Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and depression.  

2.     Empathy Game for Parkinson’s Disease – collaborating with Augusta University

This is an on-going project in collaboration with Augusta University Medical School. WSB-TV has covered this project in its news channel in February 2020. KSU Visual Insight also covered this project.

Introducing empathy for patients with uncommon diseases in medical students has always been a challenge in medical education.  Nowadays, with the rapid evolution of technologies, it is possible to use cutting-edge gaming devices as tools to improve teaching efficacy and enhance student’s understanding of a specific disease.  The purpose of this project is to utilize the presence and immerse of virtual reality (VR) to simulate Parkinson’s disease (PD).  By engaging students in the simulated daily life of patients with PD, we aim to help medical students to have hands-on experience of the disease and thus to facilitate their understanding of the symptoms and the empathy of patients. Data collection functions will be built in to allow educators to use this more effectively in a learning environment. 

3.     Cybersecurity Education – for K-12 education

This is a collaborative project between Dr. Joy Li and Dr. Yan Huang in preparation for the 2021 K12 summer camp proposal. The goal is to introduce topics of cybersecurity to high schoolers in a fully interactive virtual reality game. By practicing on-hand tasks related to in an immersive environment, the project aims to help students learn cybersecurity knowledge more effectively and retain better memory compared to traditional textbook teaching. The project consists of the main menu scene that leads to a few minigames; each of them has a small task to learn one type of cybersecurity, such as symmetric and asymmetric cryptography.

4.     VR Historic Museum – an educational game collaborating with Carters Lake Army Corps

This is an educational game to emulate the day to day lifestyle of Native Americans. It shows off their culture and how they used their various artifacts. 

5.     Sailing with the God – an educational Game collaborating with Emory University

This is an on-going project with a long history of development at Emory University.  It’s a serious game (NOT VR) that offers pedagogical benefits for students and players interested in ancient Mediterranean myth, history, maritime mobility, and economics. We are collaborating in providing minigames that are situated within the complicated framework of an existing project, constitute significant contributions to our long term goals for the game: pedagogical benefit and analytical significance.


[1]  E. M. Sokhadze, F. Manuel, D. L. K. Casanova, G. E. Sokhadze, Y. Li, A. S. Elmaghraby, and A. S. El-Baz, “Virtual reality with psychophysiological monitoring as an approach to,” in Autism Imaging and Devices, 2017, publisher: CRC Press.

[2]  J. Zhang, M. Mullikin, Y. Li, and C. Mei, “A Methodology of Eye Gazing Attention Determination for VR Training,” in 2020 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW), Mar. 2020, pp. 138–141.

[3]  C. Baxter, E. M. Sokhadze, and Y. Li, “Affective Virtual Reality Game for Depression Symptoms Detection Using Psychophysiological and Behavioral Measures,” in Proceedings of the 2020 ISNR Annual Conference, vol. 7, Dec. 2020, pp. 173–174. [Online]. Available:

[4]  C. Zhang, H. Luo, and Y. Li, “Depression Detection Using Virtual Reality: A Literature Review,” in Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 2021, pp. 4001–4008.[Online]. Available: https://

[5]  Y. Li, H. I. Luo, and C. Zhang, “Empathy Games for Depression Using Virtual Reality: A Literature Review and A Study Design,” in Proceedings of the 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Jan. 2021, pp. 4009–4018. [Online]. Available:

[6]  Y. Li, C. Ducleroir, T. Stollman, and E. Wood, “Parkinson’s Disease Simulation in Virtual Reality for Empathy Training in Medical Education,” in 2021 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW). Atlanta, GA, USA: IEEE, Mar. 2021, pp. 56–59.

[7]  Y. Li and H. I. Luo, “Depression Prevention by Mutual Empathy Training: Using Virtual Reality as a Tool,” in 2021 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW). Atlanta, GA, USA: IEEE, Mar. 2021, pp. 60–63.

[8]  Y. Li, C. Zhang, and H. I. Luo, “Using mixed reality in K-12 education: A Literature review,” in AMCIS 2021 Proceedings. 22. Montreal: AMCIS, Aug. 2021, p. 1728.