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Video games Research Networking

In 2014 the AHRC awarded funding of up to £45K to six international video games research networks following a jointly organised European Games Workshop in collaboration with the Science and Innovation Network France, Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network, TIGA (Trade Association for Games Industry), and Information, Communications Technology Knowledge Transfer Network, with the support of NESTA. The workshop sought to directly address one of the main recommendations of the Nesta Next Gen by bringing together arts and humanities researchers and video games developers to explore current research challenges and opportunities for the industry, to promote interdisciplinary approaches and combine academic approaches with commercial industry expertise.

This short film examines the six AHRC Videogames Research Networks, which includes:

Creative Territories: Exploring Innovation in Indie Game Production Contexts and Connections led by Patrick Crogan, at the University West of England The number of micro and SME businesses has grown post-recession. This network will bring together leading international and UK scholars, indie games developers and creative industry stakeholders to examine this transformation of the young but highly significant video games industry to identify how it makes possible new kinds of cultural production, collaboration and creativity. The research aims to formulate and 'map forward' the key processes and connections that represent commercially viable, creatively sustainable and culturally valuable pathways for the development of this sector so that it lives beyond its early 'bubble' and makes a significant difference in video game production as both economically and culturally valuable form.

Games and social change: In-between screens, places and communities led by Scott Gaule, at Manchester Metropolitan University

This network explored the burgeoning 'Games for change' movement that has emerged in the last decade, which has appropriated to engage people beyond entertainment. A growing number of artists, educationalists and activities are developing games that contend with personal, social and political subject matter, e.g. poverty, immigration, fiscal crisis, with the explicit intention of altering or affecting player opinion outside of the game world. The network will also focus on games which allow immersive and interactive storytelling experiences to play out across a range of trans-media platforms, such as Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and Urban Games, which engage with social justice, community and humanitarian issues.

Performance and Audience in Movement-Based Digital Games: An International Research Network led by Patrick Dickinson at University of Lincoln

This network explored new concepts in the design and development of movement-based games to create a framework enabling performance practitioners and researchers to participate directly in the development of a game. Partnering with Arts Queensland to explore cultural constructions of performance, particularly in relation to narrative and audience, and use these to establish new frameworks for expression and interaction.

Guitar Heroes in Music Education? Music-based video-games and their potential for musical and performative creativity led by David Roesner at the University of Kent

The network sought to investigate the impact of music-games on how we define music-making, creativity and identity and what opportunities this provides for artist and teachers. In order to do so, the network connected relevant arts and humanities academics with both game designers and musicians, who have embraced the soft- and hardwares of gaming for creating new ways of composing and performing. The network also seeks to explore the creative potential and influence these games will have on future game design and how these could be implemented in music education.

Developing videogames and play for hospitalised children led by Elizabeth Wood at University of Sheffield

For children in Hospital play tends to be based on 'traditional' toys and games, with limited opportunities for playing with digital devices or tools. There is considerable scope for development in the video games industry to utilise the expertise from arts and humanities researchers to co-create digital play opportunities that respond to the specific needs of hospitalised children, to stimulate their play experiences, imaginations and creativity when confined to medical and recovery spaces. This network brings together academics, videogames designers and hospital play specialists using arts-based methods to explore different perpsectives. Areas such as physical and digital space, tactile and imagined play, friendship and isolation will be informed through physical participation in graphic novel illustration, performance, and sculpture which will be facilitated by professional artists in these fields.

Video Games in the Museum led by Gregor White at University of Abertay Dundee Video games have become one of the most important design phenomena of our times, incorporating animation, architecture, cinematography, costume and product design, scriptwriting and many more disciplines. Yet little effort has been made to preserve this history-in-the-making. Games developers have shown little interest in archiving their own work and with the exception of a few, the museums and archive sector have disengaged, perhaps seeing this as a form of popular culture that lies outside its remit. This research network aimed to fill this gap, to ensure that video games of today will be part of the cultural heritage of the future.