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Smashing the gamers’ stereotypes and crowdfunding a new research project

Posted June 3, 2013

Be honest, what games do you have on your phone or Facebook profile? Do your kids beg to play Angry Birds? Do you spend time while waiting in a queue slicing virtual fruit? Perhaps you spend time on the games console instead of watching TV or a movie? Do you take your play very seriously, planning your weekend around a virtual footy game or taking down the latest World of Warcraft boss? Or are you of the opinion that games are a waste of time, only for ‘losers’ and kids mucking about instead of getting some fresh air and exercise?

Either way Deakin University researcher Dr Chris Moore would like to hear from you.

Dr Moore is currently researching the ‘products of play’, investigating what it is that Australians value about their play experiences?

This research has a democratic twist as Dr Moore is looking for people to help fund the experiment, collaborating with the home-grown crowdfunding websitePozible. The 30 day social media campaign aims to raise between $5 and $8000 for a national survey into the social, cultural and material values that Australians put on their play.

“The underlying message in the public discussion on the subject of game play and digital games most often is that they are violent, sexist, addictive, or essentially unproductive,” Dr Moore explained.

“Yet Australian gamers, young and old, men and increasingly, women, consume and enjoy games on a scale that rivals and often exceeds cinema, television, music and books, so playing games must mean something to us, but what exactly?”

Dr Moore said that while researchers know parts of the puzzle, the bigger picture, such as the differences between generational and gender interests, was still a mystery, despite the increased frequency at which people play games and share the results of play.

“For instance, I get a huge amount out of playing games with my kids, whether it’s on the iPad or jumping about in front of the TV with the Wii or Xbox Kinect, and a lot of those silly but memorable moments end up being shared across Facebook,” he said.

Dr Moore said people who played games produced thousands of hours of online videos and podcasts, contributing to masses of blogs, websites, and community sites as the connections of games to mobile and social media have made it easier to share our productive play experiences.

“People spend a great deal of time forming friendships, networks and entire communities around games and play, whether its building digital cities or tending to virtual farms,” he said.

“There is an unprecedented degree of human capital and cultural production involved in this and yet this activity is largely disregarded as merely disposable ephemera.

“In Minecraft for instance, hundreds of people, young and old, work together simultaneously to creative amazing projects, all planning, recording and sharing their creative work together.”

Dr Moore said the second part of the project is to develop a cultural ‘cache’, an evolving online archive, to celebrate and further research the values and products of game play.

“The online features of the cache will support the use of emerging digital humanities research methodologies including geotagging, cultural mapping and visual analytics,” he said.

“The cache will have a significant interest to non-gamers, appealing to parents, colleagues and partners whose family members and friends regularly play games.”

Source: Deakin University

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