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 PLAY & DIGITAL GAMES


Alongside undertaking research I also write about play, digital games and experimental research methods that combine art and design practices. I publish reports for industry, peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and blog posts.

CULTURE, HISTORY & VR DEVELOPMENT




        What has culture and history got to do with VR development? Here I discuss some initial ideas on the topic…

Kress (2003) describes how communication practices arise from changes in technology, social and cultural practices. Geertz (1973) defines culture as: ‘the fabric of meaning in terms of which human beings interpret their experience and guide their actions [while] social structure is the form that action takes, the actually existing network of social relations’ (p. 145). In other words, our very specific cultural and personal backgrounds control our interpretation of experiences. In relation to my own experiences of Japanese location-based VR content this is in relation to both being British, but also having spent my twenties and early thirties living in Japan. As a result my interpretation of several of the Japanese experiences drew directly from this connection to the culture; one as partial insider but also an outsider. For example, on a visit to Hashilus I played with one of their VR experiences called Happy Oshare (Fashionable) Time.

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BOOK CHAPTER
Yamada-Rice, D., Rodrigues, D. & Zubrycka, J. (2019) Makerspaces and Virtual Reality Chapter 5. In: Blum-Ross, A., Kumpulainen, K. & Marsh, J. (eds) Enhancing Digital Literacy and Creativity: Makerspaces in the Early Years. Routledge.

DO EMERGING FORMS OF DIGITAL PLAY REQUIRE NEW MEANS FOR ANALYSING DATA?


Drawing: Dylan Yamada-Rice

        It’s fascinating and fun to observe a child at play. Even more fascinating, though, is the underlying engagement and learning that can be uncovered through emerging means of transcribing and analyzing data.

Increasingly, research with children in an industry context uses big data from online surveys or harvests data directly from the technology young people are using. Working as a Senior Research Manager at Dubit and a Senior Tutor in Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art, I too collect and analyse data around children’s play, to guide the design of new digital products.

Still, I remain an advocate of the smaller-scale qualitative insights gained from visual and experimental methods. While more resource intensive, observing and talking to children about their use of digital content can provide very rich accounts of what engages them, that may be obscured in quantitative data alone.

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CAN MAKING A HEADSET TEACH CHILDREN HOW VR WORKS? 




      For three years, Dubit has been engaged in research around children and virtual reality. Beyond basic questions of health and safety, engagement and enjoyment, UI and UX, it’s critical with this emerging medium to ask how children can learn to critique VR content. As with any medium, we should want young people across cultures to be critically literate — choosing and engaging thoughtfully across diverse VR content, but also to be content creators themselves.

Making builds an active connection between thinking and knowing. Anthropologist Tim Ingold (2013)* wrote that humans have forever learned about the world through our hands.

While VR content creation is still a complex process, perhaps enabling young people to design their own VR headsets, with an eye toward enhancing the immersive experience, would spark critical thinking about how VR works. I tested this idea in my role as a Senior Tutor at London’s Royal College of Art, with postgraduate students, building from key findings in Dubit’s Children and Virtual Reality study.




STORYTELLING & GRAPHIC NARRATIVES


I specialise in narratives and storytelling. Most commonly in relation to children’s media, such as digital games, toys and TV shows.To do so I conduct research that crosses academia and the kids media industry. Often using a combination of methods from social sciences combined with those from art and design. I also use graphic narratives to analyse data, think through drawing and tell stories.




UK-JAPAN LOCATION-BASED VR NETWORK 


2019-2020
The network brought together academics from the RCA,  Glasgow School of Art, and the University of Tokyo working in the fields of social sciences, engineering, and game design with  professionals from the commercial VR sector in both countries working in the area of Location-based Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for children.
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MOON & ME



2014-2019
I worked as a researcher and advisor for the hit TV show Moon and Me. It is an example of the importance of research to good design. 
VR Other Worlds (2020)