01 June 2022

Abertay lecturer among ‘exceptional’ researchers awarded prestigious RSE funding

Dr Hadi Mehrpouya received funding as part of the RSE’s Research Awards programme

Screenshot of computer game

A lecturer in Abertay’s School of Design and Informatics has been awarded £58,000 from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) to undertake research into how the rights and wellbeing of video game players can be protected by game designers and policymakers. 

Dr Hadi Mehrpouya, Lecturer in Computer Games Technology, has received project funding as part of the Research Award programme which supports leading research that benefits Scotland’s cultural, social and economic wellbeing. The programme’s Autumn 2021 call is granting a total of half a million pounds to 10 universities across the country.

Dr Mehrpouya’s project will examine the gaming experience in the era of ‘surveillance capitalism’, the commodification of personal data with the core purpose of profit-making. This participatory investigation is a dialogue with players about their data and how their data is used within games and beyond. 

Dr Mehrpouya said:

“I’m absolutely delighted to be awarded this funding from the RSE and for my research to be recognised alongside such impressive projects. Video games and players are changing rapidly and the line between game worlds and ‘real worlds’ is becoming blurred. We need a proper conversation about the monitoring of player data and the subsequent impact on gamers’ privacy. Ultimately I hope my research informs the development of measures to protect the rights and wellbeing of players in the future.”

Dr Mehrpouya’s project is focused on Pubg Mobile, the world’s largest battle royale game based on the number of players. Released in 2018, the game is developed by Tencent, a large e-commerce firm based in China. The focus will be on the mobile version since most players in the Middle East have access to the game via their tablets or mobile phones

Dr Mehrpouya added:

“A lot of video games research focuses on Western games and players so I wanted to shine a light on a lesser-known demographic. Given the significance and rapid expansion of game producers throughout Asia and the Middle East, Pubg Mobile is a great example of AAA game that is produced in a non-Western setting. Over the past year, I have developed strong relationships with a range of Pubg Mobile players from various countries in Asia and the Middle East and from various socio-economic backgrounds which will be instrumental in conducting my research.”

Professor Charles W. J. Withers, Research Awards Convener at the RSE, said:

“The RSE Research Awards Programme continues to sustain the talent pipeline of Scotland’s vibrant research and innovation sector by supporting high quality research work in the sciences, the arts and humanities, and the social sciences. This funding enables awardees to deepen their knowledge through research which tackles global challenges, supports career development, and makes significant benefits to society and the economy.”

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