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Can we use computer games for more than entertainment?

Cass Professor receives major grant for new research

Traditionally digital games have been aimed at the entertainment market. But can digital games also address serious social, education and scientific problems?

A new £1.45 million research project by Cass Professor Feng Li along with colleagues from the University of York  and Durham University Business School, will look at this question.

The team aims to bring the UK digital games industry closer to scientists, teachers and healthcare workers to harness their ingenuity and innovation to contribute to advances in science and society.

Researchers will work with games companies and industry network associations to explore ways to promote the production of more games with a social and scientific purpose.

Principal investigator Professor Peter Cowling said: "Every action in an online game, from an in-game purchase to a simple button push, generates a piece of network data. This is a truly immense source of information about player behaviours and preferences. We will develop new algorithms to "mine" that data to better understand game players as an avenue for making better games, societal impact and scientific research."

Professor Li emphasises that developing robust and sustainable business models is a key part of the project.

He comments: 'We are looking to develop products that can achieve financial sustainability and operational scalability, which have the potential for significant long lasting impacts. New strategies and business models in the digital economy is one of our academic strengths here at Cass. With our position close to both the City of London and Tech City, we are in a unique position to leverage our connections with both for this project.'

The New Economic Models and Opportunities for digital Games initiative is funded jointly by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

It will employ three post-doctoral researchers and has an advisory board reflecting the support of more than a dozen games companies and nine creative industries network organisations.

The NEMOG research team comprises Cass's Professor Li, as well as Professor Peter Cowling, Dr Ignazio Cabras and Dr Daniel Kudenko of the University of York, and Professor Kiran Fernandes, of Durham University Business School.

The digital games manufacturers supporting the project are: 4 Door Lemon, AI Factory, Albino Pixel, Complex City Apps, Creative Assembly, Introversion, LimbsAlive, MiniMonos, Playgen, Red Kite Games, Revolution, WeR Interactive, ZumFun.

Network organisations supporting the project are:, the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network, City of York Council, Digital Shoreditch, Game Republic, Science City York, the SiDE Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy Hub, Tech City, and TIGA.

Contact Professor Feng Li for further information

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