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In plain English

The Sussex Library has a special area called the Research Hive for graduates and researchers. In theory it's supposed to be a collaborative space, but in practice it tends to be a very quiet area! They also put on different events and workshops for students. Currently they are 'inviting' (some might say challenging!) doctoral researchers to write about their research in plain English - or at least plain enough for someone outside their discipline to understand. And there's a slim chance of £15 of Amazon vouchers! Naturally I had to give it a go.

We all know that game play can be massively altered by the rules of the game. For example, deliberately kicking the ball off the pitch in rugby (where returning the ball to the field of play gives either team a chance of winning the ball back) is a much more acceptable practice than in football (where the team who last touched the ball is disadvantaged). Do the rules also change the way we feel about our fellow players?  
I am part of a project team that is trying to create an online multiplayer game based on two board games. These board games have very different rules around the way that players relate to each other. I am hoping to use aspects of social identity theory to analyse these rule differences and predict the effects on the game players. Social identity theory examines the effects different group situations have on the individual's commitment to that group. For example, if people cannot change their group membership they identify more strongly with that group even if the group is not doing well. In one of our games, players are able to change teams whilst in the other they can't. This suggests that players should bond together more strongly in the game where they can't.
I am aiming to test the two board games and also make two versions of the online game, which will hopefully allow me to compare the effects of these rule differences in both face-to-face and online situations. Ultimately this will allow us to choose the most appropriate set of rules for our game, as well as showing that we can use findings from other disciplines to shape social interactions in a game.
What do you think? Plain enough? English enough?! Too many commas is my normal problem! Actually, it took me longer than I thought it would to come up with that. Kind of sounds a bit too simple now. 
There are things afoot here, studies in the offing and things like the annual review on the horizon. Plenty to keep my little brain whirring, and hopefully more to post about very soon.



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