CTS – Thesis Proposal

Bring something new to the subject that nobody’s brought before, an insight into the subject that nobody else has access to.

consent forms if interviewing the mentally ill, children etc. ethical practices. No leading the interviewee or the questions. Be mindful of how you formulate your questions.

Open and closed questions

A body of words of considerable writing, containing chapters, well researched; on a specific subjects, not about breadth but about depth.

HW- read the whole handbook and bring at least 3 questions about what to do. Write a question, write 10 things we are interested about, write an annotated bibliography.

think about 20 or 40 credits

write rough thesis questions 3 or 4, one main one.

next week we will improve on the questions we choose.

who what when where why.

5 annotated harved bibliographies



Thesis Preparation

  • Thesis Proposal Preparation Timetable

    All sessions delivered on Tuesdays Term 3  Tuesday 19th April – Tuesday 14th June

    Week 1 (Tuesday 19th April) 

    What is a Thesis?

    • Go through the Thesis Proposal assignment.
    • Go through this timetable.
    • Show where all the supporting materials are on the Year 2 CTS Moodle site.
    • Explain the 20/40 credit choice using the course diagrams posted on Moodle.

    Note difference of 5000/10,000 words.

    Explain what it means for the studio part of the course.

    • Exercise: What is a Thesis?

    Show copies of previous Thesis (both 20 and 40 credits) and read in small groups to get a feel for the range of subjects and also the content/structure/presentation.

    Discuss the selected Thesis with the whole seminar group.

    Find out what topic areas the group are already thinking of researching.

    Go through the document Choosing a Thesis subject posted on Moodle.

    Week 2 (Tuesday 26th April) 

    What is a Methodology?

    What is a Rationale?

    We will explore the relationship between a rationale and a methodology expanding on the kinds of research methods you might employ. This will build on the Research Methods seminars which have prepared you to consider these approaches to your work.

    Week 3 (Tuesday 3rd May) 

    What is a Literature Review?

    There are materials on Moodle to support this delivery in terms of writing a Literature Review, which will be examined in this session.

    Week 4 (Tuesday 10th May) 

    Making your thesis + conclusions & looking ahead

    Introduce the ‘Thesis InForm’ exhibition and what they need to do over the summer. Look closely at conclusions and citations, reference lists and  bibliographies

    Week 6 (Tuesday 24th May)

    Handing in day

    Submit your Thesis Proposal by 4pm via Turnitin on Moodle. The work will be assessed using OAT 2 on Moodle. Thesis Choice Option Forms to be collated to determine the numbers of students doing 20/40 credits.

    Return of feedback sheets using OAT My Assessment Feedback by Friday 10th of June.

    Week 9 (Tuesday 14th June) 

    Tutorial sessions

    Tutorial sessions to give clarification on the feedback provided and 20/40 credit choice.

    20/40 Choice Issues

    We will liaise with Course Leaders/studio tutors to give tutorial support and clarification on the written feedback for students who might not have made the right choice of 20/40 credits

Week 8: E sports

From entertainment to professional pursuits 

Contents outline:

  • towards a definition of e sports
  • a political economy focus
  • ‘gold farming’ and the real money trade
  • tournaments
  • streaming platforms
  • teams and players as brands

‘play is a voluntary action or occupation executed within certain fixed limits of time and place, according to rules freely accepted by absolutely binding, having its aim in itself and accompanied by a feeling.’ (Hazing 1949: Homo Ludens, p13)

E-sports, towards a definition

Aspects of gaming which are sliding from a leisure side to a more professional or career driven competition.


Real Money Trade (RMT): Internet hobbyist – cyber work, often but not always involving multiplayer online gaming, in which real money is spent on virtual currency.

Gold Farming

collecting objects and currency that can be traded as a commodity.

‘A typical RMT transaction consists of three steps; first, sellers post prices and virtual currency exchange rates on personal websites or auction sites such as eBay. then buyers make payments using paypal or credit cards, and finally both parties arrange a time for logging in to game servers and complete their transactions.’ (Lee and Lin 2011,p 454)

RMT workers do not have the means for constructing occupational or work identities:

  • Self employed
  • no company or workplace (people work from home or in cyber cafes)
  • the work tends to be repetitive and labour intensive
  • low prestige and dubious professional status

Yu-Hao Lee and Holin Lin (2011) ‘”gaming is my work”: identity work in internet hobbyist game workers’

Playborours‘ in a small power-levelling workshop outside Changsha, where they also eat and sleep.  “A transnational production chain.”

E sports: a blanket description for competitive video gaming, including online gameplay and viewing of tournaments online.

E sports as a professionalized gaming cultures involves:

  1. Tournaments (LAN party can in the act of gaming, and also gathering of players in one location).
  2. Teams and players as marketable brands
  3. streaming platforms

Worldwide market for eSports by region, 2015


Female gamers

‘Female professional gamers must navigate additional hurdles in the creation and management of their brand and attempt to commoditise their personas. Female gamers carefully negotiate and perform their gender while mainttaining their status as a competitor and influencer in gaming’s highly masculinised culture.’ (Zolides, 2015: 42)







Researching without Google

The deep web is 500 times bigger than the things you’ll find on google.

Google is just the surface of where you can find articles. UAL subscribe to multiple places where articles which are password protected.

  • UAL library services > A-Z Databases > *choose database* > search database
  • Images: bridgeman education
  • Reports: mintel
  • Audio visual media: Screenonline (for written articles about films) Box of Broadcasts (for shows)
  • News articles: nexis
  • Articles, books, documents: Articles Plus
  • sounds: british article sounds

It’s best to use a combination of both digital and physical articles when writing an essay. Books may give a more theoretical idea, and articles a more current approach, but academic writings are generally better without bias from opinion.


Week 7: Gaming communication

Inclusion exclusion and gamergate

Play is social: it involves complex interplays of communication, interpretations of intention, role playing and cooperation.

The social play of humans is also culturally mediated and formalised

games and gaming play are very different roles in the lives of different people. For some it is a casual and diversion for some it is a more intense involvement.

‘With the increases in ubiquity of personal computers, video gaming consoles, smartphones and other connected digital devices, there are more, and more multiform opportunities for communication and thus also for social contact than in the past.’ (Mäyrä, forthcoming 2016 p6)

‘[B]elonging to a community is dependent on […] choices and actions, and also defined by the associated sense of belonging to a community.

In the public debate surrounding communities there are often conflicting views between what are considered as genuine or true communities and non-genuine or artificial or insubstantial ones.’ (Mäyrä, forthcoming 2016 p2)

To gamers, we see that an online community is a genuine thing, where as people who are not used to online gaming communities may think that they are artificial, and don’t necessarily exist.

‘Communities’ are formed as more permanent social relations, but have as their starting point a gaming experience (something else grows from the shared gaming experience between people).

Brint 2001: 10-11, ‘A typology of communities’

  1. communities of place = e.g. a village
  2. communes and collectives = e.g. evening classes, book clubs etc
  3. localised friendship networks = e.g. the friendships at school, same course
  4. dispersed friendship networks = e.g. same network as school but when everyone has moved away from each other, still in touch online
  5. activity based elective communities = e.g. sports clubs
  6. belief based elective communities = e.g. religion, churches
  7. imagined communities = e.g. how newspapers group people together
  8. virtual communities = e.g. online gaming communities, mmorpgs

MUDS (Multi User Dungeons) – early text based game worlds where players use the same environments

The co creator Richard Bartle, of the first MUD, analysed online MUD forum discussions and found two main directions of interest for playing: 1) the game environment 2) the other players

World of Warcraft research

Research by Ducheneaut et al 2006 of World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment, 2004; WoW) used qualitative in game observations plus automatically logged quantitative data gathered from 129,372 WoW player characters.

Conclusions: the game play is not as socially oriented as we might think.

Player characters spent typically only 30 to 35% of their play time in groups, and ‘solo play’ was more typical.


Guild structures and larger raid groups are important in high level plays, but most WOW subscribers tend to play surrounded by others, rather than playing with them.

But even so, the presence of others is important. it allows players to show off their achievements.

“[I]nstead of playing with other people , [game subscribers] rely on them as an audience for their in-game performances, a an entertaining spectacle, and as a diffuse and easily accessible source of information and chitchat.”


Cultural capital

Pierre Bourdieu (1996)

cultural capital means the way symbolic elements such as skills, tastes, posture, clothing, mannerisms, material belongings, credentials, etc. that one acquires though being part of a particular social class.

Sharing similar forms of cultural capital with others – the same taste in movies, music or knowledge of sport, or a degree from a certain university – creates a sense of collective identity and group position (‘people like us’).

“certain forms of cultural capital are valued over others and can help or hinder one’s social mobility just as much as income or wealth”, e.g. economic capital

eg to be able to play sports for the rich such as polo requires a lot of money, so only the wealthy would be able to play such a sport.

Gaming Capital Mia Consalvo (2007)

draws on  pierre bourdieu’s idea that capital (a resource that can help you in various ways0 can be financial but also cultural and social.

Highlights the meanings and significance of games, gaming and knowledge about games and associated practices hold for groups and individuals

Face to face or online, discussing game experiences, sharing tips, tactics or even cheat codes that allow extra lives in a game, shapes and increases gaming capital.

But we should always remember that the talk, attention and activities of gaming communities are not separate from the activities of various industry groups (developers, distributors, marketing people, reviewers etc.) whose objectives are to direct such attention.

Occupational community

‘the term occupational community denotes a group of workers who, through their identification with their occupation, share a common set of norms and values (salaman, 1971)’

Identities and Avatar

If cyberspace is supposedly a disembodied experience, what is the role of the avatar?

“At a very basic level, bodies root us and make us present, to ourselves and to others. Avatars form one of he central points at which users intersect with a technological object embody themselves, making the virtual environment and the variety of the phenomenon it fosters real.” (Taylor 2002)

  • Presence – affiliation – communication (social interaction)
  • customisation as election/ as experimenting
  • making sense of the plurality of selves?

SPACE WAR! (1962) could count as the first computer game avatar, where the player plays as a space ship, and although it is not human it was implied that someone was inside it.

being present within the game world and taking on a ‘virtual identity’ embodied in the shape of an avatar.

AVATAR (meaning in sanskrit) = ‘descent’ or ‘to cross over’

Is an avatar another self through which people express values and person characteristics?or a product or tool used to conduct realistic tasks?

“In Hinduism, an avatar (/ˈævəˌtɑːrˌævəˈtɑːr/;[1] Hindustani: [əʋˈt̪aːr] from Sanskrit अवतारavatāra “descent”) is a deliberate descent of a deity to Earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being (e.g., Vishnu for Vaishnavites), and is mostly translated into English as “incarnation“, but more accurately as “appearance” or “manifestation”.

Avatars create a unique opportunity to try out a variety of selves – and provides what we perceive of as a “safe space” for engaging with outs using our imagined self.

Avatar Attachment

‘avatars are … more than simply online objects manipulated by a controller. An avatar, even if it has physical and emotional traits that are very different… is expressive of the controllers identity.’ (Wolfendale, J. 2007, my avatar myself: virtual harm and attachment)


Nominal identity – a name, id numbers, metrics and set of data which are fixed and used to identify an individual.

We apply identity categories to ourselves = self informative identity (relationships with other people, how you identify yourself around people and who you feel around a person.)

‘we express our identity in the clothes we wear, in our body language, through he careers and hobbies we pursue. we can think of these things as the media through which we communicate who we are.’ (super 2002: 459)

social symbolism (outward directed) e.g. being vegan, vs self symbolism (inward directed) e.g. getting a certain hairstyle









Week 5: Avatars, cyborgs and Identity

Cyborg Subjectivity:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 14.03.03.png

Tactile interaction and sensory feedback from the computer to the body produces a cybernetic relation, connecting ‘actual’ and ‘virtual’.

A cyborg conciousness:

‘… delirium of virtual mobility, sensory feedback and the incorporatino of the player into a larger system thus ties the body into a cybernetic loop with the computer where its affective thrills can spill over into the player’s space’ (Lahti 2003: 163)

‘We may be toying with the body when we play, but we remain flesh as we become machines’ (ibid: 169)

I personally feel that some games become so immersive that we can have an almost out of body experience, as our mind is away but our body remains in the same place. Our brains are active where as we are physically not moving. This is similar to reading or watching films.

(Newman 2002) ‘Importantly, the … relationship between player and system/gameworld is not one of clear subject and object. Rather, the interface is a continuous feedback loop, where the player must be seen as both implied and implicated in the construction and composition of the experience’

You could argue that games are a good example of us being cyborgs in a literal sense, without having real metal attachments etc.

Becoming cyborg

Fusion between flesh and machine, neurology and data, human consciousness and technology..

Thinking about these terms perhaps we are already cyborgs.

Sherry turkle’s Ted Talk ‘connected, but alone?’

Sherry turkle’s book Alone Together (2011)

“We’ve come to expect more on technology and less on each other”

Nomophobia = the fear of having no mobile phone

The Body: a site marked by social catagorizations, subject to values, predeceases and histories.

‘The body is not a natural thing; on the contrary it is a culturally coded socialised entity’ (Braidotti, 1994: 238)

How can we illustrate the idea of bodies being inscribed by: gender, class or social group, sexuality, ethnicity?

What is it to be a male or a female? yes there are physical differences that determine much about our lives, but may of these may not be natural because the environment/people tell you who and what you are e.g. transgender people.

Martin Parr Photographer:


How does health define social class? through statistics. Weather people are more likely to live longer statistically etc. The kind of food we eat, the price of the things we consume, the more expensive the ‘better’ they are for us and therefore we live longer.

For writers such as Donna Haraway ( The cyborg Manifesto 1986, and sherry turkle (the second self 1984

“The hybrid identities made possible by ‘new’ technologies promised liberation from traditional codes, binaries and markers of gender, class and ethnicity”

“changing one’s skin, however, within the context of a fighting or shooting game, does not imply any experimentation with the types of real world social priviledges that are linked to the skin, for example” (Lahti 2003: 166).

Personally I feel that the idea of becoming someone else in a game regardless of race or sex is fairly superficial as it’s impossible to ever experience being someone else, as we have always been the same one person since birth.

When you customise or design a character in a game it’s known as ‘skinning’.

Skinning = choosing various items/ accessories to design your avatar (customising).

‘..many of these games ask us to further specify – and exercise control over the kind of body we desire. We are lured into a supermarket of bodies and body parts from which the player’s representative, her virtual self, can be created and customised. Unhinged from contexts of social inequalities, the body here is aestheticised as variety of itself, turning it into a mutable fashion statement, an adaptable task orientated instrument, or a toy with which we can play.’ (Lahti 2003: 166)


Week 3: Participatory Cultures

What is participatory culture?

Henry Jenkins, “patterns of media consumption have been profoundly altered by a succession of new media technologies which enable average citizens to participate in the archiving, annotation, appropriation, transformation, and recirculation of media content.”

recirculation of media content: reposting, retweeting / annotation: leaving comments / appropriation: turning something into something else, eg. memes / archiving: keeping a digital blog such as instagram or tumblr

Fan cultures, creative pleasures and ‘user generated’ content: memes, fan fiction, and conventions etc.

What is a meme? Could it be defined as “an inside joke for the internet”?

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 14.42.57

Modding: what is it, what can it be? Changing/ adding/ modifying content in a game, by people who are not part of the producing company. Modifying someone else’s product in order to add levels, graphics, quests, multiplayer etc.

C0unter-Strike, originally a team based mod for the game Half-Life (1998) attracted more players online than any of the professionally produced FPS (first person shooter) titles, a little later more than all of them combined.



Design and redesign of ICTs: improving existing or developing new applications, hardware and modds.

The creation of new practices using ICTs; the creation of the content, the establishment of patterns of interaction, machinima.

More widespread creative design: Blogs, clan homepage, walkthroughs.

New patterns of use and practices; sets of practices among gamers, etiquettes and social expectations.


Machinima = the process of using animation from materials taken from games, there is now a youtube channel with the same name which create animations using computer game content such as pacman etc


‘CONVERGENCE CULTURE’ (Jenkins 2003) coined by Jenkins is a term used to describe a new era of transition where ‘old meets new’


Visual Ethnography (Research Methods)

What is ethnography? The study of people and cultures

‘Ethnographic research usually involves observing target users in their natural, real world setting, rather than in the artificial environment of a lab or focus group.’ (gov.uk)

How might we go about doing visual ethnography, and what are advantages and disadvantages and disadvantages compared to tother kinds of ethnography research?

Visual ethnography researching using a camera/film/audio.

eg. Case study of students going to a village in Africa and seeing if they could live off a dollar a day, whilst living with the people themselves. Using themselves as test subjects to answer the question of it it’s possible.

practical considerations: will your equipment work in the given circumstances? will your presence and recording equipment change what occurs, the way that people act and interact? e.g. light problems, recording problems, weather issues, will people change the way they act when they’re in front of a camera

ethical considerations: the responsibility and power involved in representing others. At what point in the process do you agree consent?

Research needs: 1) Focus 2) a rational 3) data gathering 4) analysis 5) reasons and evidence

  •  Focus: what is your research trying to find out?

Ethnography tends to be about how a group of people act and interact, but also how they understand themselves; their own actions and interaction.

  • Rational:  why is this with doing?

Offer a rationale, or reasoning for why this selection of subjects constitutes a distinct ‘culture’ or group, and what your observations and interactions are likely to achieve. Include limitations and boundaries of your project.

  • Data Gathering:

Consider practical and ethical considerations. Carefully plan how you intend to proceed. Prepare questions, methods and equipment, certain points of interest and a schedule. Observe, interact and record.

  • Analysis: Your data cannot ‘speak for itself’. You must provide analysis, commentary and conclusions.
  • Reasons and evidence: Make sure you gather sufficient evidence to make your comments convincing.

Another approach: A more ‘participatory’ visual method is to facilitate your subjects/participants to use visual materials (drawing/photography/maps/video) as tools for communication.

Photographs are a good visual tool to make people talk more.

Participant constructed images can become a rich resource a point from which discussion of experiences and relationships can expand.

Images can generate collaborative analysis where both researcher and subject play and equally important role.



‘GAMIFICATION’ is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts. The term originated in the digital media industry and various other terms to describe the same or parallel phenomena exist.

For example, applying scoreboards or the collection of points in a reward scheme. Rewarding a child with a treat or a sticker for doing an action can be seen as a game. We’re exposed to it since we are young, as a mechanism of motivation.

Nectar points, Starbucks pointcards, restaurant loyalty cards are all examples of this, so the process of shopping in itself could be seen as a game.

Criticisms of Gamification:

Systems that add nothing more than a scoring system to a non game activity should be called ‘pointsification’ not gamification (Robertson, 2010)