On media use…
I research the uses of tactical media online. Tactical media are either alternative forms of media or alternative uses of mainstream media. That means, my primary focus is the transgressive habits of users.
My areas of interest could roughly be divided into three broad categories, though I have found that these groups overlap in unexpected ways.
- Virtual worlds and games
- Transmedia storytelling
- User-experience and experience design
My primary focus is griefing and how it affects virtual worlds governance. In layman’s terms, it basically means this:
Virtual Worlds are computer generated environments in which people socialize and play through their personalized avatars. Examples would be World of Warcraft, Second Life, EVE Online, Minecraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Elder Scrolls Online, etc.
Needless to say, I spend quite a bit of time in these worlds for the sake of “research.” I conducted fieldwork in Second Life from 2006-2012. You can read some of my articles on the topic here, here, and here. Right now you can find me in EVE Online flying Internet spaceships with a well-known space tribe that shall go unnamed.
On the left-hand side is a picture of a notable griefer from Second Life.
Below is a video of some of his alleged shenanigans in Second Life, exaggerated to mock the overblown public reaction to griefers:
My secondary area of research is transmedia storytelling, a (highly contested) fancy term for stories which are distributed across various media.
These include a number of online and offline platforms, such as television, social media, video sharing sites, blogs, phones, e-mail, and whatever else you can imagine. My work thus far has been on social media franchises and Alternate Reality Games (ARG).
I conducted research on Lonelygirl15, a video blog that began in 2006 and became wildly popular almost overnight. The videos were pitched as an unprecedented initiative based on community-based storytelling. I discuss to what extent they were successful in this objective here. TL, DR: it’s complicated. But even so, the show became the first social media franchise. This article is set to be published at Convergence.
I examined how fans used Alternate Reality Games (ARG) to negotiate a more meaningful role for themselves within the Lonelygirl15 franchise. Here is my article about it. ARGs are immersive games that blur the lines between reality and fiction by conveying a gaming experience through online and offline mechanisms. It is hard to explain the concept, but a sensationalized version has been the topic of the movie Game starring Michael Douglas (though the games are rarely this exciting). Perhaps a closer example would be The Blair Witch Project, hailed to be one of the precursors of ARGs. Here is a more detailed explanation of what ARGs are.
Suffice it to say, the gameplay consists of solving complex puzzles that unlock various stages of the game, retrieving clues scattered across the web or in real-world locations, as well as performing a host of activities. I am currently writing a chapter on Art of the Hei5t, a remarkably successful ARG used as a marketing campaign for the Audi A3.
On user experience (UX) research…
Since my research is on media audiences, user experience and experience design is a natural focus for me.
Currently, I am a Senior UX researcher for software at ADP. There, I…
- Work closely with UX Designers and Project Stakeholders to propose and conduct user research activities.
- Coordinate, plan, execute, and report on user experience research activities across numerous products, services and platforms like Smart Compliance.
- Engage in task-based testing, card sorting, surveys, focus groups, 1:1 interviews, task analysis, remote moderated testing, prototype testing, persona creation, recruiting, etc. across platforms and user groups for complex web and mobile applications.
- Identify the appropriate user experience research methods/activities for each project and be responsible for designing, planning, conducting, and communicating results of related research studies at all organizational levels with the highest quality.