Brackenridge: Communicating Research


The research I’m doing under the Brackenridge Fellowship has many different moving parts. It includes an oral archive of stories about the Century III Mall, research in both Gothic Horror and Spatial Theory, and an interactive 3D video game that ties everything together. Explaining my research to the public has helped me convince people to sign up for interviews. To accomplish this goal, I posted calls for interviews on Twitter, Facebook, and email. One mistake I made during this process was using too many academic terms like spatial theory and aesthetics & motifs when targeting a nonacademic audience. Along with the copy I wrote for the social media and email shoutouts, I created a website that includes the following:

  •  a 10-second description of the project
  •  a short description of the Brackenridge Fellowship and its relationship to my research
  • a description of the interview process and its importance to the project
  • a link to my game design document that explains the entire project in detail 

When explaining the videogame aspect of the project, most people are generally familiar with the popular video game category of FPS games (First Person Shooter). My game is similar to an FPS game, only it is replacing the gun with a spray paint can and flashlight. Instead of killing people, in my game, the objective is to solve puzzles, revitalize an abandoned mall space, and make it to the third floor of the mall. Explaining my research on the Century III Mall is fairly easy because many people who are from Pittsburgh have heard of it and know that it is abandoned. People who are not from the Pittsburgh area, usually have been to or come from a community with a downtrodden mall.

Currently, my professional goal is to work for a game company along with obtaining a Master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. Whether or not I’m making a small game in a master’s program or an AAA game for a major game publisher, it is crucial to be able to explain development to potential players, investors, colleagues, etc. The most important audience to communicate to is the potential players, who have to understand the controls, game mechanics, and other parts to play the game. Poor communication in how the game works and the ideas behind the game could prevent people from finding out about the future projects I work on. 

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