E39 Lessons from Games Studies for the Metaverse (ft. Dr. Dmitri Williams & Dr. Aaron Trammell)

Games have been serving up killer apps for new tech since the early days of model railroads, maybe longer. It’s 1982, what do I do with this home computer thing? …mostly play some games! Thus, it should come as no surprise that the video games of recent decades have provided foundational technologies for the impending less-gamey, more-workey metaverse. And so who better to help parse this inevitable metaversatile future than expert Game Studies researchers!? Dr. Trammell, Dr. Williams, and I discuss a range of topics related to this question of connections between video games and the metaverse, from issues of equity and inclusion to the epistemological nature of technology development and adoption. We imagine a future metaverse—facilitated by augmented reality technologies—that layers on top of our meatspace world, enriching but also stratifying social interactions. We also talk about how games provide a safe space for experimentation with new technologies that facilitates a sort of evolution by sociotechnical selection, helping to identify which user experiences are likely to be most compelling in more serious (e.g., business) contexts.

For more on our guests, please see:




About the SPARTIE Lab:

The Social and Psychological Approaches to Research on Technology-Interaction Effects (SPARTIE) Lab performs research on the effects of human-technology interaction, examining how the use of media technologies (e.g., avatars, agents, automobiles) influences meaningful outcomes (e.g., education, health/safety, persuasion).

The SPARTIE Lab is part of the greater academic community at the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University. More information on the lab's research projects, staff, and work can be found on the SPARTIE Lab website.

About the host:

Dr. Rabindra (Robby) Ratan, Ph. D., is an associate professor and AT&T Scholar at Michigan State University’s Department of Media and Information and is the director of the SPARTIE Lab.

He is also an affiliated faculty member of the MSU Department of Psychology, the MSU College of Education’s program in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, and the MSU Center for Gender in a Global Context. Ratan received his Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, his M.A. in Communication from Stanford University, and his B.A. in Science, Technology and Society, also from Stanford University.

Dr. Ratan conducts research on the effects of human-technology interaction, examining how media technologies (e.g., avatars, agents, automobiles) influence meaningful outcomes (e.g., persuasion, education, health/safety). He is particularly interested in the Proteus effect, media-rich transportation contexts, perceptions of media as self-representations and/or social others, avatarification for health and education, and gender stereotypes in gaming contexts.

Dr. Ratan lives near Lansing with his family. More information on his work can be found on his website.