Zoë O'Shea

How Can We Apply Self Theory in Digital Games to Develop Adaptive Gameplay Models, Mechanics and Narrative?

Digital games are a new kind of interactive media that have begun to develop a unique field of academia – yet there is very little study on how “the self” may specifically manifest in digital games. This research aims to address this absence in our knowledge and ultimately create adaptive gameplay models to produce “tailored games” for players. Increasing our knowledge of “the self” in digital games will help us to understand player psychology and decision processes, as well as players as agents in cybernetic systems. Rather than focusing exclusively on the traits that players will be exhibiting, this research will also look to assess the psychological state of the user during play. This line of investigation can be used to predict a range of factors such as player gameplay preferences, the point in which players are likely to quit a game, behaviours that players exhibit that fall outside current motivation models and even ways to develop new kinds of Non-Player Characters (NPCs) with personalities to complement the user. Zoë’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach with a particular focus on ludology and psychology; it is further informed by the fields of computer science, HCI, media studies and philosophy. 

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Zoë moved to the UK in 2007 to pursue her life-long passion for video games. Her background includes an undergraduate degree from the Anglia Ruskin College of Art, Cambridge with a focus on 3D modelling, animation and visual effects in addition to a Master’s in Digital Game Theory and Design from Brunel University, London. Upon finishing her Master’s thesis, Zoë worked for a year as the Visual Director and lead artist at London-based indie company “Tea-Powered Games” on their debut title, “Dialogue: A Writer’s Story” before applying to IGGI with determined aspirations of synthesising the discipline of ludology with the practical concerns of digital game development.