Our partnership, “IMMERSe”, expands on and integrates new and existing knowledge of the player’s experience; helps to further Canada’s position in the digital games industry; connects and creates synergies between stakeholders; expands research and development capabilities in Canada; and, in co-operation with industry, trains highly qualified personnel to work in this burgeoning field. There are many places that academic research, in partnership with industry, can simultaneously benefit the growth of the games industry in Canada and further academic and theoretical research concerns. Moreover, there are many aspects of games research that carry over into other important areas of research, including interface design, the psychology of play, education, addiction, and human-computer interaction.
Our overall objective is to build research capacity in understanding and testing the game player’s experience. Specifically, we aim:
- to collaborate across disciplines and traditionally-segregated faculties to develop a common theoretical language and shared methodological approach with which to
research the game experience;
- to determine the most effective methods for testing and gaining insight into our research questions, including the best laboratory set-ups (e.g., are questionnaires sufficient, or do we need to use psychophysiological or neurobiological measures to determine immersion?);
- to develop tools for exploring questions of the game experience, including testing materials (games, simulations) for which we can reconfigure elements for experimentation;
- to combine and treat in integrated fashion both text and context in the analysis of games (until now, with notable exceptions, researchers have typically focussed on games as “text” in isolation of the player’s experience, or vice versa; our aim is to value and examine each in relation to the other);
- to facilitate a network of interdisciplinary researchers and industry stakeholders that will increase both theoretical and applied knowledge and benefit academics, industry, and the public, thereby promoting engagement in research with all end users;
- to explore uses of social media to disseminate academic knowledge and tools to nonacademic audiences, including both industry and the public; and
- to improve the use of games in learning and training contexts.
Our questions relating to the player’s gameplay experience are both broad and specific. Guiding the project as a whole is the following set of overarching integrative questions:
- ln the world of games and game-driven technologies, what is immersion, presence and engagement, and how can we test for it and hence design for it?
- What constitutes player presence, and how can this feeling of”being there” be tested, enhanced, and theorized according to multiple disciplines?
- How do player relationships determine or result from the experiences of immersion?
- What properties or characteristics of games are most important to an engaging experience? How does the experience change when we alter those properties?
- Does attraction to the gameplay experience contribute to game addiction (if so, how)?
- What can we learn about digital design in general by the study of games, and how can we enable designers of all media to create more compelling experiences for audiences?
Under the umbrella of these integrative questions are clusters of more specific questions, which define the research focus of six different IMMERSe Themes: 1) Interactions and Gameplay Mechanics, 2) Narrative and Dialogue in Games, 3) Multimodality in the Game, 4) Serious Games and Game-Based Learning, 5) Games that Change Behaviour, and 6) Cultural and Social Interactions. All IMMERSe projects are based within one of these six Themes, and each Theme is led by a designated THEME LEADER whose responsibility it is to guide research progress and to ensure the timely dissemination of research results.