Second Brown Bag of the Semester – January 24, 2014

Nicholas Bowman, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, West Virginia University


Video games have enjoyed sustained economic and cultural success for nearly four decades, with their success often attributed to their interactive nature: passive audiences become active users with a vested stake in the on-screen experience. However, as games continue their evolution from singular challenge/skill puzzles to narrative-rich virtual worlds, the manner in which we play and are affected by this play has been called into question. Specifically, given that users do not have an unlimited ability to process stimuli, one might challenge the implicit assumption that gamers interact with and are influenced by all on-screen content in a similar fashion. The following presentation outlines emerging theory and research into the ways in which gamers attend to different on-screen content, and how this implicit and explicit attention can impact the overall entertainment experience.


Nicholas David Bowman (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an assistant professor of communication studies at West Virginia University, where he founded the Media and Interaction Lab (#WVUCOMMIL). His work focuses on the psychology of entertainment media, and how our interactions with and through technology impact our thoughts, actions and feelings. He has published over three dozen research articles and a dozen book chapters on technology and communication, and is co-author of a new book on computer-mediated communication “An introduction to computer-mediated communication: A functional approach” with Kendall-Hunt Publishing. Nick is frequent presenter at regional, national and international conferences and serves on the editorial board of several journals, including Media Psychology and the Journal of Media Psychology. Recent work of his considers video games as spaces of challenge as well as contemplation, and looks to understand how these different experiences might moderate how use and are affected by gameplay.

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