PhD Student, York
Jen is lifelong gamer with a multidisciplinary background. She has experience in media technology, psychology, environmental science and designing and developing small games using Unity. Jen is currently interested in player experience, diversity, inclusivity, social play, and game communities. As part of her IGGI industry experience, she worked with neurological care charity Sue Ryder as a volunteer. She spent many fun hours helping care home residents play digital games on PC and tablets. She is also a lover of animals, walking, thinking, reading and films.
Digital games for well-being and the social experiences of non-disabled and disabled players inside and outside of games
A substantial body of research supports that there are benefits to playing digital games for all kinds of players. This PhD focuses on the impacts upon player experiences and well-being of improving game accessibility and inclusivity for players with disabilities, to broaden gaming audiences.
In terms of playing games, disability or impairments, whether temporary, permanent, cognitive, physical or related to mental health, may cause several challenges. For some, it may be that they simply cannot use mainstream or standard control mechanisms (console controllers, keyboard and mouse). There has been a wide range of research into alternative control mechanisms for disabled users of which many look promising, however are currently unsuitable for use with mainstream games or are incompatible with mainstream gaming systems. For some individuals, those who have found suitable mechanisms to play or can use standard controls, there may be other concerns that stem from the design or mechanics of play, such as requiring speedy reactions, or remembering facts, recognising visual, auditory or even emotional cues.
This research is centred around the broader experiences of these players, where they have access to game worlds and the social worlds and communities that surround the gaming hobby. Are these player’s experiences of gaming different? What effect do alternative controls have upon play? What are the experiences of these players in multiplayer games or online games? Do these players engage in the social aspects of gaming in the same way as able players? Therefore, are there barriers to gaming which go beyond control or cognition, that are social in nature?
Currently, Jen is working with the AbleGamers foundation to understand and profile digital game players with disabilities. This is aimed at making it more readily possible for researchers and game developers to contact and work with a broad demographic of disabled players, to understand how to better accommodate and improve access to digital games. Jen is also studying multiplayer game players about the social experiences of play and experiences and views on accessibility features and technology.
Home Institution: University of York
Supervisors: Paul Cairns (York), Chris Power (York), and Jeremy Gow (Goldsmiths)