The Bristol Digital Game Lab at the Arts and Social Sciences and Law Showcase

The Bristol Digital Game Lab was invited to create a poster for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Law Research Centre and Group Showcase on Thursday 4 May 2023. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to reflect on our original aims for the Lab, what we have achieved in 2022-23, and our ambitions for the future. We focused on our five core areas of work: Research, Funding, Networking, Partnerships and last, but by no means least, Play! The poster helped us to share our work and meet new collaborators at both the Showcase and the Faculty of Arts Research Celebration on the 9 May 2023. We have included the full poster text below.

Richard and Xiaochun at the Showcase. Poster design by Melissa Cole.


Over the past seven months we have organised three research seminars in collaboration with University and civic partners, hosted local and national industry speakers, run an eight-week experiment with Classics students looking at how they play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft, 2018), supported ECRs across the University through a research student work-in-progress event,  established a network of UK Game Labs, and sponsored a workshop on Virtual Realities as Time Travel, organised by the multidisciplinary Virtual Reality Oracle project. 


We’ve secured £10,000 of research funding to support our activities, and are actively exploring further avenues of funding, including from industry. Our thanks to our current sponsors: the Faculty of Arts and International Strategic Fund, University of Bristol; the British Academy. 


Following the first annual UK Digital Game Lab Summit in February 2023, where we invited the leads of eight UK-based game labs to Bristol, we have pioneered the creation of a ‘meta’ network of game labs in the UK. With support from the International Strategic Fund, we are building links with EU game labs in Cologne and Tampere. We have also fostered links with local and national industry partners. Our mailing list currently numbers over 100 researchers and practitioners. 


From the start, we were keen to work with partners in the creative industries, including the non-for-profit Bristol Games Hub. Thanks to these partnerships, we have been invited to share our research at industry-led showcases, such as the Made in Bristol Showcase in October 2022 and the Immersive Showcase in April 2023. We have also supported local industry partners in applying for key funding opportunities, and invited industry experts to share their insights with us at public lectures, including Dr Tomas Rawlings, Studio Director of Auroch Digital (Bristol) and Luke Holmes, Senior Game Designer from Creative Assembly, the multi-award-winning BAFTA UK games studio. 


As Huizinga argued, play is essential to the human condition. We have had fun running events such as our Festive Gaming session, where local industry partners shared early releases with us to playtest. We also enjoyed co-judging the Computer Science Society’s ‘It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!’ game jam, where we identified the winning entry, Magnum Opus.  


We’re excited to be arranging future events with colleagues at the PM Studio in the Watershed. We’re also planning to run a game jam, organise several conferences, collaborate with the Centre for Creative Technologies, MyWorld and BDFI, develop our industry partnerships, as well as plans for courses and skills training in gaming. We would also love to hear from you. Let us know what you are working on and what you would like the Game Lab to do. Come play with us!

Richard with the Game Lab poster at the Faculty Research Celebration on 9 May 2023.

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