Janet Gibbs

Janet Gibbs

Sensory Substitution for Gamers – novel ways to engage with video games

Janet’s research aims to explore the possibilities of interfacing ‘sensory substitution’ to computer games. This technology has been studied as assistive technology for sensory-impaired users, for example to provide visual experience to the blind or auditory experience for the deaf. Similarly, sensory augmentation seeks to induce perceptual experience outside our normal spectrum, such as directional and proximity sensing. Related technologies have given us remote control drones, micro-surgery and much more. Many of these devices offer new ways of engaging with the user’s spatial environment. By interfacing them to digital games and virtual reality, we should expect to do the same for the virtual space of the game world. However, it is not yet clear how this would work in practice. How easily can players learn the unfamiliar perceptual skills required, and what physical devices would be both comfortable and satisfying in use? What innovative game experiences can we design to take advantage of these devices? In a combination of empirical and theoretical work, Janet will seek to identify and develop novel gaming interfaces that will bring fresh challenges to existing players; and, if possible, open up computer gaming to a new community of sensory-impaired players.

Janet is working towards her PhD in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence, building on earlier studies for her MSc in Cognitive Computing at Goldsmiths. Her work brings together cognitive science and philosophy of mind with games computing and HCI, to seek new ways of engaging with computer and VR games. Janet enjoys pushing the boundaries of technology. Her earlier career has encompassed the introduction of word processing and automated publishing to an international legal publishers and their typesetters. She also contributed to the building of a ground-breaking legal database, designed for the then new technologies of CD-ROM and online services.

Home institution: Goldsmiths

Supervisors: Dr Kate Devlin, Dr Adrian Clark

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