REF2014 Impact Case Study: Game changing research

  • Daniel Mcguire Pinchbeck (Participant)

    Impact: Cultural & Creative Impacts, Economic & Commercial Impacts, Practitioner Impacts

    Description of impact

    An innovative approach towards researching story-telling and its relevance in games design has resulted in cultural and economic impact in the creative sector and generated novel approaches that have influenced creative practice in the games industry.

    Who is affected

    Games industry, games industry practitioner groups, independent game studios/entrepreneurs.


    Research undertaken at the School of Creative Technologies had identified a lack of data in the area of participant experience and narrative modes in computer games design. An AHRC grant allowed research into how story telling in virtual environments could be used to increase participants’ sense of immersion and self-presence. To create conditions under which player participation could be evaluated, research was undertaken to maximize the experiential engagement of players. Virtual environments within games were created and made available to the gaming community. The aim was to gain insights into the role of narrative in gaming environments through the creation of authentic gaming processes. In contrast to traditional lab based academic projects, this research made an innovative contribution to games research by constructing a ‘field based’ context for player interaction.
    This research focused on three game ‘plug-ins’ applied to existing commercial game engines that were developed by the researchers. These were made available to the gaming community, who provided key feedback throughout the project.
    This approach had previously been considered too risky by the games industry, as it challenged the use of ‘first person’ in commercial gaming protocols. As a result the university researchers identified an innovative gaming framework using community user group feedback.
    The research led to the formation of a fully developed, successful independent games development business, employing 12 full time staff. The company is currently collaborating with Sony. Three games sold through distribution companies secured sales of over £65 million. The research therefore contributed to the economic prosperity of the computer gaming sector, and created a model for how collaboration between industry and academia can generate innovative approaches to computer gaming.
    Impact statusOpen
    Category of impactCultural & Creative Impacts, Economic & Commercial Impacts, Practitioner Impacts


    • REF2014