Welcome to my site! I’m Dr Mark R Johnson. I’m a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, somewhere at the intersection of game studies and science & technology studies. I recently completed a stint as a Researcher in Residence at the UK Digital Catapult, and I’m also an independent game developer and co-host of the Roguelike Radio podcast, and an ex-professional poker player. My research focuses on the intersections of play and money, especially in esports/competitive gaming, live streaming, and professional gambling. I’m also working on my first monograph, The Unpredictability of Gameplay, to be published by Bloomsbury Academic! My work has been supported generously by the Sociological Review, the ESRC, the Digital Economy Crucible, the UK Digital Catapult, and the World Universities Network.
For the last five years I’ve updated this blog almost every weekend, and intend to continue doing so until the heat death of the universe. If you want to see what I’m up to, the best way is to either read this blog or follow me on Twitter, where I post lots of stuff about game design, game studies, and URR’s development. If you want to get in touch, send me an email at mark @ this domain.
- My research is focused on a number of related topics at the intersections between video games, money, new forms of employment and labour, and interactive technologies: I’m currently especially interested in Esports and competitive gaming, Twitch and live streaming, fantasy sports, and professional gambling. My first monograph, The Unpredictability of Gameplay, is due out in late 2017/early 2018 by Bloomsbury Academic, and I’m currently securing the contract for my second book. I’ve published about half a dozen journal papers and book chapters, with another half-dozen hopefully coming out soon. I’ve spoken at dozens of games conferences including GDC Europe, DiGRA, FDG, the International Conference on Computational Creativity, the Canadian Game Studies Association, AISB AI & Games, Nucl.AI, and many others, on topics ranging from qualitative procedural generation to Japanese arcade culture, and interactive storytelling to ASCII game semiotics.
- I’m the sole author of this blog and co-host of the popular podcast Roguelike Radio.
- I’ve given invited talks at a large range of public gaming events, undergraduate courses and Universities, such as Norwich Gaming Festival, the University of Lincoln, the University of Bedfordshire, ProcJam, the National Videogame Arcade, York Geekfest, Varsity Games, the European Esports Conference, Insight Marketing Conference, the University of Alberta, and many others.
- I’ve been interviewed live on BBC World News about eSports to an audience of almost a hundred million, and cited on BBC News on the same topic; I think academic engagement with the media is absolutely essential, and I’m always open to invitations for comment.
- I’ve also written articles for a number of gaming magazines, websites, and academic blogs, including Rock Paper Shotgun, Vice Gaming/Waypoint, Kill Screen, Paste Magazine, Discover Society, The Sociological Imagination, and more.
- I design/program/develop Ultima Ratio Regum, a “classic” roguelike game written in Python. Its narrative and themes are inspired by the works of Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and Wu Ming.
- As well as providing the challenging gameplay experience one expects from roguelikes, I want to get players thinking intellectually about other issues such as historiography, cryptography, philosophical idealism, linguistics, and many others. It has been in development for nearly five years and have completed the “worldbuilding” portion of the game, moving (at last!) into gameplay.
- Ultima Ratio Regum can be found on Facebook, Twitter at UltimaRegum, on IndieDB, and has been reported on in a number of gaming news outlets. I’ve also been interviewed for or reported on by Rock Paper Shotgun, Kill Screen, PC Gamer, and many others, and I plan to start displaying the game at conventions and independent game events in the near future.