The Study of Games is...
The idea for IMMERSe was first proposed in 2010, by Dr. Neil Randall, the Principal Investigator of IMMERSe and Executive Director of the Games Institute, and Dr. Karen Collins, Associate Professor and Canadian Research Chair in Interactive Audio. Randall and Collins were in the midst of discussions for the formation of the Games Institute, the University of Waterloo Games Research Centre, when they came across a call for proposals for the SSHRC Partnership Grant. The grant would go towards supporting the development of a long-term, formal partnership to advance research and knowledge mobilization in the social sciences and humanities ("Partnerships"). Collins and Randall knew there was need for multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary games research and saw this as the perfect opportunity to build a network.
After that initial meeting they quickly set to work. Collins led conversations from the academic side, reaching out to partners at Carleton, Concordia, McMaster, UOIT, UW and UC Davis, while Neil led discussions with industry partners. It was decided that the world of games would be focused through a series of six “research themes,” a lens through which researchers could focus on specific aspects of games research. A leader from each partner University was designated as a “theme leader” and became a co-applicant on the partnership grant.
In May 2012 the grant was awarded and the Interactive and Multi-Modal Experience Research Syndicate (IMMERSe) was officially formed. The overarching goal of the network was to build a strategic games research network for an eight-year period, but once it got started IMMERSe became way more than that. IMMERSe represents a fully multidisciplinary, multimodal, multi-thematic, multi-institutional network. In all products and processes of IMMERSe, these “multi” identities interact with one another to elevate the quality and depth of the work. The legacy of IMMERSe is a showcase of games research that was profoundly improved by integrating “multi” approaches.
Receiving the grant was a watershed moment for Games Research. IMMERSe was a student research funding system, with the money going towards students across institutions, disciplines, and years of study that were interested in the world of games. Against all odds, the network was able to reflect the whole comprehensive nature of the games world, which encompasses everything from story, to character, to cultural studies, all the way to art, user analysis, psychology, and even health studies.
Descriptions of what the IMMERSe network is can only begin to touch the surface of its true nature. In fact, we believe that the truth of the network comes through in the research and the many wonderful events, publications, and projects IMMERSe researchers created over the years. We urge you to explore the website to discover for yourself.