Beaton awarded Gaming Research Fellowship at UNLV


Brian Beaton, Assistant Professor at the iSchool, has been awarded a Gaming Research Fellowship by the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Dr. Beaton will spend two weeks at the Center during the 2012-13 academic year, conducting research into how the Las Vegas gaming industry draws crowds of players to specific games. The larger purpose of Beaton’s research is to identify crowd-drawing techniques and strategies used in Las Vegas that may be effective in drawing people to online citizen science games.

The term “citizen science" generally covers local, community, and volunteer-based scientific research. Contemporary citizen science projects address challenges in climate change, biodiversity, human health, and more. Many of these projects involve innovative partnerships between academic labs and the general public, creating new and novel ways for ordinary people to assist with large-scale scientific data collection and analysis. Online games have become one common format for citizen science initiatives. Under the guise of gaming and play, online citizen science games enable the general public to work with big data sets and to help with groundbreaking research in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematical (STEM) fields. Dr. Beaton will be teaching a new graduate course on citizen science in the spring of 2013 at the iSchool.

At UNLV, Beaton will be examining game-specific promotions, incentives and rewards, design, architecture, and advertising used by Las Vegas casinos both historically and in the present day. At the close of his fellowship, Dr. Beaton will be giving a public Gaming Research Colloquium talk and producing a research paper on those crowd-drawing techniques which seem to hold the most potential for re-use and adaptation within the context of online citizen science gaming. Beaton hopes to learn how to attract more people to such games, utilizing those strategies proven effective in Las Vegas casinos and gaming centers.

Dr. Beaton joined the iSchool faculty in August of 2012: his research and teaching interests include science and technology studies (STS), archives, social and cultural theory, information workplaces, design, public and applied history, scholarly communication, digital humanities, and public policy.