Digital games and gaming have become a ubiquitous part of social and cultural life, a fact which has implications not only for the media themselves, but also for how we engage citizens, experience art, conduct scholarship and teach. I'm interested in developing game-led experiences to suit cultural contexts that are increasingly user-created, distributed, asynchronous, proactive, and dynamic. In particular, my research explores the potentials of gaming and game-led experiences to be deployed for social good, including in post-conflict/post-terrorism contexts, and in the service of transitions related to climate change.
My PhD adapated post-conflict literature to a playable street-game in Belfast, a flagship indie game titled [in]visible belfast that was produced as part of the Belfast Book Festival in 2011. This served as a basis for beginning to understand how pervasive games, social games and alternative reality games can serve as public outreach tools and pedagogical tools, particularly in culturally sensitive contexts. This was later adapted to a game-based audio documentary for BBC Radio 4 titled “Invisible Belfast” (2016). I have also developed text-based games, social media apps and audio/podcast games that focus on driving engagement using the attributes of mixed real-world and digital social networks.
Since 2014 I have been exploring possibilities for a variety of digital media—and particularly game-based experiences—to be instrumental in transitioning to more sustainable energy economies, work which has been informed by private sector work in renewable energy (2013-14) and digital communications (2014-16). Broadly, my conceptual approach foregrounds the importance of communicating complex issues using appropriately complex interactive modes, which prioritise local or community-based social networks and emotionally intelligent game design. With respect to energy games, for example, this challenges the standard approach to energy intervention, dominated by fact-based campaigns, a mode consistently shown to be ineffective over the long term. I am in the final stages of developing an AHRC Early Career bid, in partnership with Prof Patrick Devine-Wright (Exeter) on this topic, which if funded will be active in 2019-20.