Research Seminar: Dr. Joe Marshall

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Joe Marshall, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham, will be visiting us to give a research seminar on Interpersonal Touch in Gaming.

The seminar takes place on Wednesday, February 10th, 13:30 in room MC 3107. Seating is limited – please email Kathrin Gerling (kgerling at lincoln dot ac dot uk) if you would like to attend.


Touch between people is a key way in which we communicate socially, from the early bonds developed by caring touch between parent and child, to the many adult uses of touch to communicate friendship, sexual attraction, violent aggression or physical competition. Touch is also a part of many sports and games, such as rugby, martial arts and Twister. In children vigorous physical contact play serves both long-term functions in the development of cognition, emotional coding and fighting skills, plus more immediate functions  relating to strength and endurance training & social dominance.

The interfaces we use to play digital games largely ignore interpersonal touch. Players are typically given individual controllers or play individually on their own computer systems. New sensing technologies largely reinforce individual boundaries, for example Kinect tracking typically breaks down if two players touch each other, and virtual reality systems remove other players from view.

In this talk I’ll discuss some games I’ve been involved in building which encourage and sense interpersonal touch between multiple players, sensing a range of interactions from gentle stroking to brutal full body contact. These have the potential to bring new things to digital gaming which are currently absent such as bodily negotiation, exploring the pleasures of pain and physical dominance and experimenting with new and imaginative ways of touching. I’ll talk about how people behave when they play these games, why this kind of game might be interesting to design and play,  and what we’ve found from watching over 1000 pairs of people touching each other.

About the Speaker

Joe Marshall is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham, UK. His work studies the use of computer systems for sports and physical gaming. He currently holds a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship on the subject of ‘Interaction in Motion’, studying the use of computer systems at the same time as full body movement or locomotion.

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