Research in Plain English – researcher postings

Over the past few weeks, we have been inviting Sussex researchers to send the Sussex Research Hive a blog posting describing their research in progress in plain English. Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing the entries, starting with the winner of the Amazon voucher (the draw took place at the doctoral school bbq on 25th May).

Ellie Martin is the second year of her DPhil research. Her personal blog is Life on Mars.  Ellie writes:

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 tactic 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.

If you would like to know more about Ellie and her work, do take a look at her blog – it’s interesting, relevant and fun!


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