Nick Bowman: Leaning in to video games: Technologies that demand engagement

Date: Thursday, 30 November 2017
Time: 14:00 to 15:30 (plus occasion for meetings afterwards)
Location: Leuven School for Mass Communication Research, KU Leuven, Parkstraat 45, 3000 Leuven (Belgium), room: Raadzaal SW-00.113
Contact: Prof. Kathleen Beullens,
Registration: Participation is free, but please register by sending an email to (before Nov. 12)

For nearly 70 years, video gaming technologies have allowed users to variably interact with on-screen digital people, places, and things in innumerable ways. This interaction is generally thought to be the secret of the medium’s critical and economic success, as games simultaneously encourage and require near-constant feedback from the player in order to be fully experienced. This feedback engages players on a number of dimensions: the cognitive challenges of solving puzzles and rationalizing the ludic dimensions of a game, the emotional challenges that come when players invest themselves in onscreen narratives, the physical challenges that come with engaging various controller systems, and even the social demands of our natural responses to physical and digital others. Most critically, these difference sources of demand might not always compliment each other: when a player has to solve a complex puzzle while also engage in pensive moral decision-making, while attempting to master a complicated controller system in the presence of others: such a scenario might force the player to focus on some gaming elements at the expense of others. This presentation will present theoretical and empirical evidence for how we might understand, measure, and implicate cognitive, emotional, physical, and social demands into models of player psychology.

Information about the speaker:
Nick Bowman (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at West Virginia University in the United States, where he founded and currently directs the Interaction Lab (#ixlab). His research considers the uses and effects of interactive media, with specific attention to social media and video gaming technologies. He has published more than 60 journal articles and presented more 120 conference papers on these topics, with recent work in the Journal of Communication, Media Psychology, and Mass Communication & Society. He is an Associate Editor with Journal of Media Psychology and the editor of Communication Research Reports, and current serves on the basic social research steering committee of the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Vlaanderen. His most recent book is Video Games: A Medium That Demands Our Attention, an edited volume in the Routledge Electronic Media Research series.


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