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The Future of Research, Usable Pasts and the Social Research Possibilities of Gaming

The International Student Research Forum in early February at HSE in St. Petersburg brought together over 300 participants from eight countries.

The list included professors and students from University College, London, the University of York, the University of Glasgow (Great Britain), Indiana University and the University of Texas (USA), The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Copenhagen Business School, the University of Ferrara, the University of Venice (Italy), HSE, and St. Petersburg State University.

The students shared the results of their research projects and listened to lectures by renowned scholars. The forum was organized in ten topical sessions, including mini conferences in finance, logistics, economics, management, big data analysis, sociology, political science, public administration, and experience economy.

One of the speakers, Dr. Robert Kravchuk from Indiana University, was impressed by the quality of students’ papers, ‘The presentations I managed to see were smart, clear and very well executed. I think the brainstorming sessions especially, made it a very useful event for the students. I was happy to participate and hope to continue cooperation with the Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg’, Dr. Kravchuk said.

Alexander Semyonov, Deputy Director of HSE in St. Petersburg, noted that ‘the forum marked a new stage in the development of student research at the university. Future professionals and researchers had the opportunity to become part of the international research community on the HSE’s platform, which, ultimately contributes to the development of both research and practice’.

Well-known Russian and international scholars who spoke at the forum shared their predictions on the trends facing young researchers on their way to master’s and further degrees in the future.

There was also a mini conference entitled ‘Usable Pasts’ at the student forum during which students of the master’s programme in Applied and Interdisciplinary History discussed  work with cultural heritage and museum collections, the history of technology, environmental history, urban history, and comparative history of empires.

Professor David Moon from the University of York delivered a plenary lecture on an environmental history project on studying important natural and cultural landmarks in Russia and Great Britain.

Twenty-three students, including five doctoral, ten master’s, and eight undergraduate students from eight countries (Russia, Ukraine, Finland, Brazil, India, Ghana, Great Britain, and the U.S.) took part in the mini conference.

A special place in the International Student Forum agenda was dedicated to the study of video games, internet, and virtual reality. The session ‘Social research of video games, internet, and virtual reality’ included ten papers on the players’ role models, on the opportunities of social interaction in games, on economic determination and research problems that could be solved by studying gaming reality.

Students and scholars from HSE in St. Petersburg, University of Tampere (Finland), and University of Gothenburg (Sweden), together with businesspeople from Amini Lab and Playvision discussed prospective research in virtual reality and developing the next generation of learning games.

Daniil Alexandrov, Head of the HSE St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Humanities, explained to the audience how games can serve as experimental platforms for studying social behavior. For example, the transition from one server to another and from one game to another may be a model of other transitions of any scale, from labour migration between countries, to career mobility and changing jobs. Criminal behavior of terrorists or drug dealers can be studied by means of video games when watching how players break the strict rules of virtual gaming without breaking  laws in the real world. Another topic, successful team building, which is important for management both in business and sports, can also be studied by means of video games, where players’ group activities are logged on game servers. So, games are ideal laboratories for studying social behavior in dynamics.

Professor Frans Mäyrä, head of Game Research Lab at the University of Tampere, was a guest speaker at the session. In his lecture, he talked about the history of game research as an academic area,  described the latest trends and directions in game research, the specifics of researchers’ interdisciplinary collaboration, and the discussed the problems of education in this field.

 

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