Games and Gaming

Directors: Jane Draycott, Timothy Peacock, Dimitra Fimi, and Matthew Barr

The Games and Gaming Lab promotes cross-disciplinary research into Games and Gaming, from Tabletop to Electronic media, from Children to Adults, and across time periods from Ancient to Modern, Fantasy, and Futuristic.

Please see below for a list of Games and Gaming Lab events, past and present. You can also find us on Twitter at @UofGGamesLab, or see our blog at

Here is report on the Lab's varied activity during 2019-20.

2021 Events


Calling all aspiring adventurers! Join us on on 28th January 2021 at 6pm (GMT) on a quest to uncover the literary history behind Dungeons & Dragons with scholar and RPG editor John D. Rateliff, in this event co-hosted by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and the Games and Gaming Lab at the University of Glasgow. More details about the event here:



2020 Events

Research Support Games Day

10:00 - 17.10 GMT, 8 December 2020

The second annual event in this series, run by GGLab member Valerie McCutcheon. 100 attendees! (You can read Valerie's report on the 2019 version here.)

Digital Feelz

19.30-20.30 GMT, 28 November 2020 

Discussion/playthrough led by GGLab member Gabriel Elvery, as part of the Explorathon 2020 programme. Detail on the Explorathon site here.

Gaming: New Horizons

15:00-16:00 GMT, 14 November 2020

An event as part of the 'Being Human' Festival. 45 people attended this virtual field trip. You can see a video on the Lab's Youtube channel, here, and read about the event on the 'Being Human' site here

Digital Heroisms

12:00-17:00PM GMT, August 5th, 2020

Digital Heroisms is an online conference exploring Fantasy, the digital and the concept of heroism in collaboration with the Games and Gaming Lab based at UofG College of Arts, University of Glasgow School of Critical Studies and Game Studies at Glasgow.

Register for the event:

“The power of the fantasy increases if it offers us something genuinely new and compelling. The limitations of our own corporeality can be abolished or the ground rules changed to give us new experiences.”

Where readers once understood heroism through a Gilgamesh, a Frodo or a Katniss, the digital subject can now figure heroism through actions, decisions and events that are in many ways their own. Video gaming has an especial talent for creating heroes that are lived-through by their users, whether this is via the experience of leading characters such as Link through the temples of Hyrule; via choice-based play utilising avatars such as Frisk of Undertale fame; or by creating entirely unique personas in role play games such as Dragon Age. In a contemporary moment enabled and mediated by a multiplicity of digital spaces, the way we conceptualize heroism will be both enabled and contaminated by games, the virtual, and ever-increasing screentime. The realm of the digital, functioning as a receptacle of imagination can equip players with the means to express the self. Digital spaces can serve as a conduit for both ludic and fantastical impulses. Heroic research must adapt to this interactive environment – its places, its communities, its values – if it is to keep a handle on the heroic constellation formed of informatic, computational and digital materials.

Fantasy scholars and authors alike have sought to define the Fantasy genre. Whether that be as experienced by characters as ‘hesitation’ (Todorov, 1970), a loose genre that can be described as a ‘fuzzy set’ (Attebery, 1992), or as being ‘the mirror of mimetic literature and its inner soul’ (Mendlesohn, 2008), digital iterations of fantasy have enhanced and extended our capability to experience the immersion of fantastic worlds. Though Fantasy video games may pay tribute to the literature from which it sprang, each form with its differing modes of performance allows the Fantastic an opportunity be presented in all of its heterogeneity; players are given the opportunity to experience a new kind of protagonism, a heroism that enables the player to effect and interact with fantasy narratives. The interactivity offered by video games can enable players to experience the self in new ways, whether that be through choice-based narratives, the player-led exploration of a Walking-Simulator or via avatars which enable players to live the ‘posthuman fantasy of extending the human subject beyond itself’ (Boulter, 2015) and craft fantasy personas.

The symposium will be seeking submissions for 20 min papers on themes such as, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Defining/constructing digital heroism
  • The converging interests of fantasy and digital heroism
  • Digital and fantastic video game environments and their effect on heroism
  • Fantasy video games and avatar creation
  • Fantastic VR experiences, the self, and digital heroism
  • The social/theoretical implications of digital iterations of fantasy
  • Considerations of digital spaces as fantastic ones
  • Heroic fantasy video game character(istics)
  • Considerations of what heroism means in the digital age
  • Problems with digital heroism
  • Digital heroism examined through:
    • Convergence culture
    • Participatory culture
    • Feminism
    • Postcolonialism
    • Queer Studies
    • Disability Studies


Organising Committee:
Monica Vazquez (University of Glasgow)
Gabe Arcana (University of Glasgow)
Francis Butterworth-Parr (University of Glasgow)
Facebook: Digital Heroisms
Twitter: @DigitalHeroisms
Instagram: Digital Heroisms


Book Launch: Graduate Skills and Game-Based Learning

5pm-6pm, Tuesday 11 February 2020

Room 423, Sir Alwyn Williams Building [map]

Join us to mark the publication of Graduate Skills and Game-Based Learning (Palgrave), by Games & Gaming Lab co-director, Dr Matthew Barr.

There will be wine and nibbles, as well as an opportunity to play some of the games Matt talks about in the book!

About the book

This book explores the efficacy of game-based learning to develop university students’ skills and competencies. While writing on game-based learning has previously emphasised the use of games developed specifically for educational purposes, this book fills an important gap in the literature by focusing on commercial games including Portal 2, Borderlands 2, Lara Croft, Warcraft and Minecraft. Underpinned by robust empirical evidence, the author demonstrates that the current negative perception of video games is ill-informed, and in fact these games can be important tools to develop graduate skills related to employability. Speaking to very current concerns about the employability of higher education graduates and the skills that university is intended to develop, this book also explores the attitudes to game-based learning as expressed by instructors, students and game developers.

Matthew Barr is a lecturer at the University of Glasgow, UK, where he convened the university’s first game studies course and founded the peer reviewed student game studies journal Press Start. He is currently Programme Director for the Graduate Apprenticeship in Software Engineering, and a co-director of the University’s Games and Gaming Lab. He serves as Vice Chair of British DiGRA (the Digital Games Research Association) and as a Director & Trustee of the Scottish Game Developers Association. He is also the current Chair of the BAFTA Scotland Games Jury.


Graduate Skills and Game-Based Learning offers us a new tool for the heart and soul of graduate education, a tool for experimentation, risk-taking, creativity, and using failure as a form of learning.  These are just the bits where we need the most help.

James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Regents’ Professor, Arizona State University

A compelling read for any faculty member who is considering whether and how to use games in their teaching. This book provides practical recommendations and robust research evidence about how students can learn important transferable skills through gaming.

Professor Judy Robertson, Chair in Digital Learning, University of Edinburgh

This book provides a much needed foundation for games in learning, linking them explicitly to graduate attributes and pedagogic theory. Moving beyond potential and advocacy, Barr grounds the application in empirical research, while also clearly setting out the perspectives of educators and students. It provides a very insightful account of how games can be used effectively in higher education, and also the issues involved.

Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University, President of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT)

This work provides key insights to using games as pedagogical tools in graduate education, positioning games in the classroom, and understanding the views and opinions of graduate students in engaging with such efforts. It explores the themes of games as tools for inquiry and experiential learning in ways that are both grounded in relevant theory and wonderfully concrete for practicing educators. I have no doubt that this will prove to be an important work for those in the field.

Andrew Phelps, Professor, Human Interface Technologies Laboratory, University of Canterbury, and Professor and Director, American University Game Lab

2019 Events

Space in Gaming

Tuesday 19 November 2019, 15:30 – 18:30

Wolfson Medical School Building, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ [map]


On Apollo 12's 50th anniversary, hear insights of Astrogamers and BAFTA-winning games developers, and see stalls showcase gaming research.

On the anniversary of Apollo 12's landing on the Moon, join us for "Space in Gaming", hearing talks from:

  • Scott Manley - Glasgow Alumni in San Francisco, Programmer and Astrogamer, whose Youtube channel of nearly 1 million followers broadcasts insightful videos combining space, science and gaming.
  • NoCode - Glasgow-based Games Developers, whose BAFTA-award winning space game Observation has been praised by reviewers as "making you think about humanity's place in the cosmos and, perhaps, the deeper mysteries of universe".

The event is also a "space" in gaming, with Flash talks and stalls celebrating gaming research by scholars from across the University, ranging from the Legally Wed board game about marriage law, to a live demonstration of WW2 and Jacobite Wargaming with miniatures.

Hosted by Glasgow University's Games and Gaming Lab (GGLab)

#GGatUofG @UofGGamesLab

3.30-4.00 - Browse the stalls (Atrium)

4.00-5.00 - Talks by Scott Manley and NoCode (Yudowitz Room - free but ticketed)

5.00-5.15 - Tea/Coffee (Atrium)

5.15-6.00 - Flash talks about gaming research across the University (Atrium)

6.00-6.30/7.00 - Browse the stalls/networking (Atrium)

The stalls include contributions from Research Projects, Scholars, Labs and Networks, with Flash talks on:

  • Legally Wed (Prof Jane Mair, Dr Frankie McCarthy and Felicity Belton)
  • Wargaming (Prof Tony Pollard)
  • Engineering and Gaming (Prof George Barakos and Dr Rene Steijl)
  • Archives and Special Collections (Robert MacLean)
  • Immersive Experiences Lab (Dr Rachel Opitz)
  • Digital Cultural Heritage Network (Dr Gareth Beale)
  • Im/Material Network (Dr Rachel Opitz and Dr Gareth Beale)
  • Digital Creativity for Regional Museums (Dr Heather Christie and Dr Gareth Beale)


Event by the "Games and Gaming Beyond Entertainment" theme

When: Thursday 9 May 2019

Where: Kelvin Hall

Description: This event will include four talks by invited speakers, a "lightning talks" session for UofG staff and postgraduate presenters, and curated games running in the foyer.

Register on Eventbrite here

Hashtag: #GGatUofG


Event by the "Fantasy" theme

When: Friday 10 May 2019

Where: Kelvin Hall

Description: The Symposium brings together researchers, practitioners, and creative industry professionals to discuss theoretical and practical questions raised by using fantasy as a discourse and subject. This is the first step towards establishing a Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow.

The symposium will open with a showcase event, in which colleagues will give brief presentations on their engagement with fantasy/the fantastic. The afternoon session will address questions such as:

  • How can we define fantasy and what and how it means?
  • How can we work together to serve the fantasy scholarly and creative community in Glasgow and beyond?
  • How can a Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic facilitate research and collaboration?


Blog - Symposium on Fantasy and the Fantastic 2019


Associated Staff