Scientific Let’s Plays
During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!
This week: This time, I think about Let’s Plays as a potential platform to discuss and to present scientific results. At least, as long as they are related to virtual environments and game research.
Communicating scientific results to an audience that goes beyond the scientific community often is a challenging process. Commonly, scientific results address a very specific and complex aspect of a research field that in itself already is difficult to comprehend. To understand and appreciate outcomes of a study, one has to be an expert with an advanced preexisting knowledge of the discussed topic.
As a result, when communicating these results to a different audience, they have to be embedded in a larger context and to be provided in a way that uses common terms. Also, the presentation and discussion is facilitated when examples are provided that visualize the contexts. These visualizations then help to understand and to connect the underlying principles with the newly gained information.
Luckily, I am in a very good position of being a computer game researcher and a Let’s Play (LP) video creator at the same time. This combination allows me to easily discuss my scientific results with a broader audience and to immediately provide audiovisual examples of the context. By creating LPs, I am already using the environment I research. In this way, my scientific presentations are automatically embedded in an audiovisual simulation I can manipulate and control. For instance, when talking about the different types of game mechanics, I can directly showcase the underlying principles by executing some game mechanics and providing an oral explanation.
Recently, I tried this approach to not only communicate my recent scientific results to a broader audience, but also to create video-based presentations one can access on demand. For this purpose, I played the open-world computer game Minecraft which represents an ideal stage for those advanced discussions. It provides players with a more or less freedom within the boundaries of the gameplay thus acting as an empty canvas.
While presenting the scientific results was not so much of a problem, dealing with actual statistics is a bit more difficult as I cannot simply display them during the gameplay. Also, the gameplay itself causes here and there a bit of a distraction, but it is possible that these distractions result in a higher entertainment level when watching these scientific LPs. Instead of purely receiving information, viewers can enjoy some actual gameplay thus achieving some kind of edutainment.
I strongly believe that this format can be very interesting for a broader audience. It automatically includes audiovisual examples, provides an empty canvas to discuss difficult topics, and achieves a high motivation to continue watching.