Research

I am a user experience practitioner and researcher in the Department of Computing, Engineering and Technology at the University of Sunderland. My main research interest is evaluation. This means that I end up evaluating all sorts of activities as well as trying to understand the evaluation process itself. Thus, in addition to my main user experience evaluation research focus, I also have some slightly strange fringe activities, most notably my interest in why people don’t buy electric vehicles, my interest in hyper-agile project management approaches and a new one rising up, which is to do with problem gambling. Family pressure also demands that I am still interested in games!

Seamless Evaluation

We started off with the idea of making evaluation as invisible as possible in the context of technology enhanced role play games (usually educational). This focus emerged from an increasing realisation of the potential tedium of evaluation and recognition of the uneasy mix between research / development team interests and user expectations. Effectively, an “Aha” moment, when we thought that evaluation, rather than being a significant battery of evaluation instruments aimed at causing maximum dullness for the players, could actually be used to add value.

Our Seamless Evaluation approach was initially developed in the FP6  eCIRCUS project, focusing on evaluating intercultural empathy. It is being further developed primarily through our role as Evaluation Work Package Leaders in the FP7 ECUTE project that began on the 1st of September. This focuses on a technologically enhanced approach to teaching, learning and assessing cultural understanding and sensitivity.

Along with a  range of papers detailing the results from our evaluations related to the ORIENT application, we have recently submitted a paper about the approach itself: “Expanding the magic circle by concealing evaluation within the in-role experience
We’ve also just written a bid with Heriot-Watt & Hertfordshire Universities. iCAPS (intelligent Computed Assisted Role-play Systems) in collaboration with Sunderland City Council and Sunderland Software City.

Recent Activities

Ilkley Literature Festival Games Writing Workshop (10/10/10)
This event was aimed at 12-16 year olds and was held at Otley Courthouse. The workshop aimed to give participants a feel for games design along with some inspiration and interactivity using based our teenager-focused games design methodology. A flavour of the workshop can be seen in the following photos and through links to some of the material: overview and task slides, a matrix jumping Spryte, a back-flipping streetgirl and the ORIENT early designsroleplay and trailer.

Low Carbon Vehicles

As part of the Low Carbon North East Research Group I am particularly interested in user expectations of Electric Vehicles and the impact that this has on consumer enthusiasm for these products. Our research focuses on “what is it that will encourage people to buy an Electrical Vehicle?” Our current enthusiasms are:

  • the impact of software synergies to enhance the Electric Vehicle experience
  • visual comfort and expectations and how this could impact on the contribution EV design aesthetics makes to purchase decision

We have recently received funding from the University of Sunderland’s Digital Innovation beacon for the ICT for Low Carbon Vehicles: User Experience and Acceptance. Our main aims with this project are:

  • To investigate user experience requirements and enhancements for electric vehicles, contributing to the user acceptability agenda and further establishing Sunderland’s credibility as a research partner for key regional and national initiatives.
  • To exploit the current significant opportunities for research synergies between software and low carbon vehicles, focusing on the potential afforded through local, regional, national and European agendas