The Games Research Network co-directors are Sam Illingworth and Paul Wake. To find out more about the network please feel free to email at any time.



Tom Brock

Tom is a sociologist and ex-‘Professional’ counter-strike player. He spent his teenage years playing competitively during the emergence of the e-Sports circuit, attending some of the earliest “insomnia” or iSeries tournaments in the UK. Tom is interested in the social psychology of play and its relationship to politics and economics. Recently, he has been writing about professional gaming and the darker side of play; whether in terms of its tendencies towards match-fixing or the value that players derive from failure and griefing. Tom teaches a short course at MMU on video games and society, and is currently working on a project (with his research assistant Emma Fraser) that explores whether video games are transforming young people’s perceptions of craftsmanship.

Matthew Carter

Matthew is a Senior Lecturer in Film, Television and Cultural Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University. His main research focus is on American frontier mythology and he is the author of Myth and the Western: New Perspectives on Hollywood’s Frontier Narrative and co-editor of ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves. While an avid gamer in his youth, he can now only be described as a novice who is looking to incorporate gaming into his research on the increasingly intermedial character of contemporary film and television.

Oliver Clark

Oliver is a Psychology PhD student at MMU.  His current research interests include using video game avatars to promote health behaviours such as physical activity.  He is also interested in 3D body image scanning as a method to increase exercise self efficacy.  He is a dedicated but very selective gamer, enjoying about three franchises and Tetris.  He was accidentally number 6 in the world on a Peggle level and his desert island game would be Final Fantasy VII.

Jenny Cole

Jenny is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research interests broadly centre on social psychology, including communication, use of technology and body image. Currently she is working on projects looking at experiences of female video gamers related to representations of female bodies in games and use of avatars, and is also interested in 3D body scanning and how this might help us to see our bodies differently. She is slightly obsessed with The Legend of Zelda games, and is generally a Nintendo fan girl.

Matthew Crossley

Matthew is a Lecturer in Web Technologies at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he also has the role of course leader for the Games Design and Development programme.  He teaches across a range of games subjects, but particularly enjoys teaching about game balance and game engagement.  His research is centred around nature-inspired algorithms, and naturally lends itself to the automated generation of games and game elements.  Although primarily focused on video games, Matthew loves a good board game, and especially enjoys the exploration of what digital games can gain from incorporating board game concepts.

Rachel Forsyth

Rachel has been involved in designing and using simple board games and scenario-based role-plays to share data and to provoke discussion about challenging, or sometimes apparently boring, topics, such as quality enhancement, curriculum design, and cultural change. She believes that game play allows people to explore potentially problematic issues without taking on blame for the current situation, which makes them really useful in cultural change situations, and that it is a surprisingly good way to share research findings more widely than expecting people to read a report.

Chloé Germaine Buckley

Chloé is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research focuses on the Gothic, the Weird and other forms of ‘Fantastika’, with particular interests in children’s and Young Adult fiction. She is an avid board gamer and is particularly keen on horror-themed games as well as those that involve lying, cheating and generally stabbing other players’ in the back. She plays in and runs games with various live action role play (LARP or LRP) groups in the UK, including Curious Pastimes (Fantasy LRP), and The Dark Door (‘Cthulhu’ Horror LRP).

Sam Illingworth

Sam is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University, whose research involves looking at how science can be most effectively communicated to a variety of audiences. He is particularly interested in the relationship between science and poetry. Since a young age, Sam has been an avid fan of tabletop games. His fondest memories include winning the 1997 Necromunda Tournament at the Harrogate Games Workshop with his House Van Saar team, and the look on the face of the senior Games Workshop staff when he painted his Slaanesh Chaos Knights Tentacle Pink and Jade Green.

Chris Jones

Chris is a Student Experience Coordinator for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has been playing Magic the Gathering since 1994, and World of Warcraft since 2007. In addition to these long-term commitments, he will try almost any type of board, app, CCG, or video game. He is currently also painting some of Games Workshop’s Stormcast Eternals. Given that it has taken him about a year to paint eight models, it will be quite some time before he can field a full army! His recent research interests have been in children’s and young adult literature.

John Lean

John is studying for a PhD in Education at Manchester Met, with a focus on the potential of games and play in informal adult learning. He previously worked as a Philosophy and Politics teacher in Salford and as a trainer for a national education charity. John has played games since he was given a SNES for Christmas in 1992. He now spends a lot of his spare money on Playstation indie games and a lot of his spare time being beaten at Netrunner by better players.

Laura Mitchell

Laura is a Lecturer in Management at Keele University, where her research focuses on the socially performative nature of worth and value. Tending to get stuck into a wide variety of research projects, Laura writes on games, ethics, autonomy, death and sheep. Her latest project focuses on crowdfunding. She is a veteran live-action roleplayer and a current referee for Reality Checkpoint LRP, while in her rapidly diminishing spare time she continues to develop games and make costumes.

Esperanza Miyake

Esperanza is a Lecturer in Information and Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University. Through critical gender, race and sexuality theories, Esperanza’s research examines identity in relation to technology, digital media and popular culture. An avid video gamer since she could hold a controller as a toddler, her current interests include understanding how gaming through new digital technologies and platforms has changed the way we experience everyday life, social interaction and technological embodiment.

Raheel Nawaz

Dr Raheel Nawaz is Senior Lecturer in Computer Science. His primary research areas are Text Mining, Natural Language Processing and Data Mining. He is particularly interested in automated analysis of texts pertaining to violence, radicalisation, extremism, racism and hate speech. He is also interested in the detection and analysis of core linguistic phenomenon like uncertainty, negation, subjectivity and modality in different languages including English, Urdu/Hindi, Arabic and Persian. His interest in games revolves mainly around exploring and analysing the textual components of computer games, especially the narrative scripts. He is currently working with Dr Mathew Crossley to produce a large-scale annotated corpus of game scripts, which will serve as the bedrock for future research on game scripts.

Gervase Phillips

Gervase is Principal Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is a long-standing gamer for his own amusement but he is now exploring the potential of importing mechanisms from gaming into the classroom, particularly via such activities as simulations and role-play. His objective is to develop historical empathy among his students and, more broadly, to foster their capacities for problem-solving, team-building and, in some instances, the ruthless determination to crush their enemies into the dust.

Martin Smith

Martin is a Lecturer in Film and Media at Manchester Metropolitan University. His current research is primarily focused on the video games industry as a site of co-creation and the blurring of boundaries between creator and consumer, as well as between recreation and labour, that occur in this site. Since playing ‘Shoot em up construction kit’ on his older brother’s Commodore 64 as a child, Martin has had an interest in games- how they work, their potential functions, and the people who make them- and this continues to be reflected in his research. Martin is also researching and practicing collaborative scriptwriting methods and has a research interest in creative pedagogy and the use of technology in teaching and learning.

Paul Wake

Paul is a Reader in the Department of English at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research explores the function of narrative, primarily in fiction, history and, more recently, in gaming (making the most of a long history of playing tabletop games). He has recently published on immersion in Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, and has a chapter on ‘unnatural’ narrative and adventure gamebooks forthcoming. He is currently working on a monograph on horror and tabletop gaming.

Nicola Whitton

Nicola is Professor of Professional Learning at the Education and Social Research Institute. Her research focuses on play in adulthood, in particular games and learning in the context of Higher Education, and the potential of play in teaching, research, and academic practice. She is chair of the Association for Learning Technology Special Interest Group on Playful Learning, and co-chair of the Playful Learning conference.


Associate Members

We are currently working closely with the following academics, games designers, and organisations. If you would like to be involved in the work of the centre please send an email to

Paul Booth

Paul Booth is a professor at DePaul University in Chicago. He is the author of Game Play (2015) as well as Playing Fans (2015), Crossing Fandoms (2016), Time on TV (2012) and Digital Fandom (2010, 2nd edition 2016). His research is focused on fandom, time travel, and board games.

Matt Coward

Matt is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of York. His thesis, an ethnography, asks the question ‘how does tabletop gaming build community in the UK?’ Having trained in Religious Studies, with a focus on Buddhist Studies, Matt’s ethnographic approach has a distinct focus on ritual, both religious and secular, and the continuum between ritual, play, and community interactions. Although fond of heavier Eurogames the likes of The Gallerist and Dungeon Petz, Matt can’t resist anything that can be played co-operative.

Jerome de Groot

Jerome de Groot works on the representation of history in popular media. He has written about history in games from Trivial Pursuit to Assassin’s Creed. His book Consuming History (Routledge, 2008/ 2016) has a chapter on ‘Playing History’ that looks at a range of ways that the ludic works in relation to the past.

Graham Foster

Graham Foster is an Associate Research Fellow at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, and the Research and Public Engagement Fellow at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary Anglo-American literature

Rolf Hut

Rolf is a researcher at Delft University of technology where if he isn’t fighting supercomputers to produce real-time flood warnings for the entire globe than he is building novel ways to measure the Earth’s environment using household electronics and tonnes of duct tape. For most of his teens, Rolf played with a Warhammer 40K space marine army noted for not doing anything in the movement phase.  Rolf also ran a multiyear Pathfinder D&D campaign in the Eberron setting, which he dearly misses.

Neal Kirk

Neal is completing a Ph.D. at Lancaster University where he is on a crusade to bring more attention to gaming into the Media and Cultural Studies curriculum. Gaming played an important part of his upbringing with a self-professed ‘cut throat’ American style Mah-jong and Scrabble playing mother, and because of his father’s involvement in the then ground-breaking, live-action American Laser Games franchise, Mad Dog Mcree. Neal forged life-long friendships playing all matter of role-playing, console, computer, board, and collectable trading card games growing up. He has continued his interest in media and gaming throughout his professional career working in the television, film and radio industries, and in his academic interests. His next research project aims to survey the production model of live-streaming platform, Twitch, as it relates to e-sports and other professional gaming avenues.

Sam Meech

Sam is an artist and videosmith based in NW England, whose practice combines digital image making, projection design, community engagement, and machine knitting. He is interested in the overlap and interplay between analogue and digital media, and the possibilities of combining the two in production and performance. He is also a co-director of Re-Dock – a not-for-profit arts organisation, developing projects that explore ways in which communities relate to digital media, ideas and public space.

Brendan Riley

Brendan Riley is a professor at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches popular culture and media studies courses. He is the author of the forthcoming Detective Fiction in the Digital Age, as well as essays on of topics such as copyright, comics, and zombies. He is also the co-founder of Rattlebox Games, a game design collective in Chicago, IL.

Chris Skinner

Chris is an environmental modeller interested in flood risk, geomorphology and uncertainty at the University of Hull. He founded SeriousGeoGames to explore the use of games, and gaming technology, for enhancing the teaching, research and communication of geosciences, and can be found at science festivals clutching an Oculus Rift showing off his games ‘TideBox’ and ‘Flash Flood!’. He is still smarting from Horus’ betrayal on Isstvan V, but with the reinforcements from the Adeptus Custodes he is sure his shattered Salamander Legion can give the traitors a bloodied nose (ie, he paints and plays 30k).

Mathew Stiller-Reeve

Mathew is a climate scientist at Uni Research Climate in Bergen Norway. He works in the realm of climate services, where communication and dialogue with users is particularly important. He is interested in how games can be used to convey climate science to different audiences, but also promote meaningful dialogue! He has worked extensively with local communities in Bangladesh, and plans to work more with indigenous communities in the Pacific and Arctic.