Research Student: Mr Ian Matthews
What are the factors that support the development of empathy within gamers?
Submission Date: December 2021
Videogames are designed to elicit a specific range of emotions from players but little is known about exactly how they promote gamer empathy. Unlike films or literature, as games allow specific levels of agency, the possibility for engagement and message transference is extremely high both in terms of emotional response and deeper cognitive understanding of situation. It is my intention to study the ways in which games attempt to connect with gamers and elicit a particular response so that I might define which factors (such as music, character or game type, etc) are more influential than others.
From this, I hope to foreground how knowledge of this empathy effect might be utilised to better engage learners in schools. The hope would be to show that if idea and concept transference is facilitated by empathy, it may lead to better academic understanding in learners.
I am a part time student who also works as Education Consultant for a large tech company in South Yorkshire. With over ten years background in teaching at high schools and colleges both in the UK and in Japan, I am currently employed to consider the ways in which games are currently being used as teaching and learning tools and to what extent they can be better used in the future.
I hold an MA in World Cinema from Leeds University, a PGCE from Sheffield Hallam University, and a BA Hons in Film and Media from the University of Sunderland. Throughout my studies, my major fields of interest have involved investigating the ‘language’ of films and games and how digital literacies are built up throughout interaction with both.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
I have always wanted to continue my professional development, challenge my own limits and develop my understanding and education but at the heart of my work, my goal has always been to help learners better understand the world in which they live. There has been no greater drive in my professional life than to develop the most intuitive, understandable, and effective methods of teaching and learning that I possibly can in order to achieve this. If by investigating the ways in which games and other digital technology affects a learner’s ability to take on board and assess a particular concept, then I feel it is a very important and necessary endevour.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
I feel that the education system as it currently stands often has the best intentions on the ground but that it is treated more akin to a political football than as a means to allow young people to learn. I have never met a teacher who has felt understood or fully appreciated in what they do nor have I engaged with a learner who has not ultimately be seen as a statistic by those higher up the chain. As such, my entire career has been dedicated to finding ways to improve the experience of learners and to offer as much help to teachers as possible. As my specialism and greatest level of education comes in literacy (both in terms of written, filmed, and game literature as well as understanding of digital and learning literacies), I feel that it is here that I will be able to achieve something significant to this end.
What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?
I will want to continue to involve myself in education, either at University or within national and / or international curricula development. I see my work in technology continuing and hope to give any further study credence and guidance as a result of my PhD.