Zoë O’Shea

  • Name: Zoë O’Shea (2015 cohort)
  • CDT: Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI) – Goldsmiths University of London
  • Nationality: Irish
  • Research Area: How can we apply Self Theory in Digital Games to develop adaptive Gameplay Models, Mechanics and Narratives?

Zoë moved to the UK from Dublin in 2007 to pursue her life-long passion for video games. Her previous qualifications include an undergraduate degree from the Anglia Ruskin College of Art and an MSc in Digital Game Theory and Design from Brunel University.

After finishing her Masters programme, Zoë worked as a Visual Director and Lead Artist at a London-based indie company “Tea-Powered Games” for their debut game title, ‘Dialogue: A Writer’s Story’ before applying to the IGGI CDT with determined aspirations of synthesising the discipline of ludology with the practical concerns of digital game development. 

Zoë’s research takes an interdisciplinary approach with a particular focus on ludology and psychology, and it is further informed by the fields of computer science, Human-computer interaction, media studies and philosophy. 

The novel and innovative nature of Zoë’s PhD research is due to the fact that digital games are a new kind of interactive media that have begun to develop a unique field of academia, yet there has been very little study on how “the self” may specifically manifest in digital games.

Based at Goldsmiths University of London, her research aims to address this absence in our knowledge and ultimately create adaptive gameplay models in order to produce tailored games for players. Increasing knowledge of ‘the self’ in digital games will help aid understanding of human psychology and decision-making processes, as well as players as ‘agents’ in cybernetic systems. Rather than focusing exclusively on the traits that players exhibit, her research focused on the psychological state of the user during play. This new line of investigation can be used to predict a range of factors including gameplay preferences, points at which players are likely to quit a game, player behaviours that fall outside current motivation models, and methods to develop new kinds of non-player characters with personalities to complement the user.

In March 2019, Zoë was successful in securing a one-year Digital Fellowship from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), as part of their Magic Leap Programme. Zoë will receive expert support from RSC technologists, industry partners i2 media research limited, and staff at the University of Portsmouth.

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