VideoGames Research

Videogames are an exciting form of entertainment, education and communication. Virtual worlds offer the promise of endlessly varying experiences, whether in a single-player game, in small group games or in the massively multi-player worlds that are increasingly popular.

Videogames are an exciting research opportunity, both in their construction and use. My own research interests focus on the relationship between players, games and stories.

Past projects include:

  • Foundational work roleplaying games. Roelplaying games are an intersting limit case of games. They don't have set winning conditions, they can go indefintitely and their rules are potentially very fluid. In this work we considered the question of how to define what is and isn;t a roleplaying game and what are the functions of the game master
  • Time in videogames. Time and video games interact in intersting ways. There's the real world time of the player, the time in the game world, time as measured by progress through the game, time from the point of view of the underlying computing system. All complicated by the the player choosing/being forced to redo portions of the game. This work proposed a model that allowed all these views of time to be related and compared.
  • Communication differences across media. People play games in many ways. This project took a roleplaying scenarion, implemented it in computer form and in non-computer form, and then compared how the players communicated.
  • Current Project include:

  • The development of the FPS. The first person shooter has an almost twenty year history. In this project we are examining how it has changed over time and how it has been influenced by events in the wider world. We are usinga large scale sample, including many hundreds of games. Very few, if any, comaprable surveys exist.
  • Player/Character identification. Many videogames give the players an avatar through which to interact with the virtual world. But while much work has been done on concepts such as "immersion" and "engagement" comparably little has been done on player/character identification, especially on what causes differences in the way players identify (or not) with their characters
  • Story and Rules. Bit of a catchall this, to be honest, of a number of pieces of ongoing work. How does the fixed nature of videogame rules effect game play, especially when compared to the fluid nature of rules in some real world games? What about the limitations of current computing hardware and its effects on what is and isn't possible in videogames? What are the best tools to understand games and their debatable relationship with story?
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