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Particpations Events / podcasts

The Participations: Participatory approaches to Research and Practice Network hosts a number of events throughout the year

Find out more about current and past events.

Participations Network and ArtWorks - U Network: This group has been a significant contributor to the University’s cultural interface with the City of Sunderland and beyond through its monthly networking and support meeting for artists, media workers, researchers and organisations working together on socially oriented projects. It also sponsors the @ArtyParti Podcast

Meetings moved online during the pandemic and now co-hosted by Sunderland Culture. It has increased membership in the last year from 400 to 526 artists, researchers, commissioners and others involved participator arts practices.

Past Events

Games, Culture, and Identity: The MultiPlay Conference 2022 - Media and Culture
Wednesday 19 January 2022

Games, Culture, and Identity: The MultiPlay Conference 2022 is a multi-disciplinary conference which brought together a range of academics and practitioners across different fields. It also launched the new academic network MultiPlay, committed to a multidisciplinary approach to video games. The conference was an online event.

The MultiPlay Conference 2022 is a conference supported by the University of Sunderland’s Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies and the Participations Interdisciplinary research Network.


Dr. Rob Gallagher (Manchester Metropolitan University) Rob Gallaher’s research specialises in examining the relationship between video games and identity, with focus on personal data and posthuman subjectivity, and life narrative games. He is author of Videogames, Identity, and Digital Subjectivity,( Routledge 2019)

“In right-wing NPC memes gaming jargon is deployed to articulate a reactionary critique of liberal democracy, one that contends only some identities should be recognised as valid and only some subjects as fully human; in ludobiographical games by creators like Cassie McQuater and Tabitha Nikolai materials poached from retro videogames and 90s gaming magazines are repurposed in the service of more radical and progressive explorations of identity and subjectivity. Putting these forms in dialogue, this keynote considers how terms, images, concepts and characters drawn from gaming culture are being used to contest and reformulate liberal conceptions of personhood and politics.”

Confirmed speakers

Dr. Poppy Wilde (Birmingham University School of Media) presented research on posthuman subjectivity at play. Wilde is an expert on the use of avatars and the relationship they have to the posthuman. She has published multiple academic articles on the posthuman, from death and resurrection in the online game to the lived experience of gaming.

Daz Skubich is one of the driving forces behind the popular streaming channel Game Assist, a channel dedicated to creating video essays on accessibility and liberation in video games. Their work poses new questions and considerations for academics about our approaches to video game analysis.

Javier Rayón is The Director for the upcoming Dream of Darkness game which explores the true history of Mexico before colonialism whitewashed the nation’s heritage. A leading content creator in the games industry, Rayón also supports the efforts of academics to address history ethically through video games.

Benjamin Carpenter is a visiting Fellow in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communications Study at the University of East Anglia. He completed his PhD in 2021, writing on philosophical critiques and solutions to the problems of contemporary identity politics. Benjamin’s current research interests are in contemporary online media and identity, with a particular interest in bringing these into dialogue with phenomenology and existentialism.

Adam Jerrett is a lecturer and PhD student in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth. As a games studies researcher, he is particularly interested in pervasive games, and the way games can break out of their “magic circles” to truly affect the lives of their players. His ongoing PhD work explores values like empathy, identity and reflection in order to create games that have personal and social impact.

Stephanie Farnsworth is a PhD candidate at the University of Sunderland. Her research focuses on examining the mutants of Mass Effect, as well as the wider themes of biological manipulation and exploitation in science fiction. Farnsworth is a co-founder of MultiPlay.

Imo Kaufman is a Midlands 4 Cities Researcher in collaboration with the British Games Institute Videogame History: Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies University of Nottingham

Dr Ayisi is an early-stage academic researcher and a member of the faculty of the Communication Studies Department of the University of Ghana. Prior to joining the University of Ghana, she taught in several higher education institutions both in the United Kingdom and in Ghana. Her research interests are in the fields of gender and new media, popular culture and digital cultures. Her focus is on issues around identity and participatory cultures and online activism.

Eyram is the co-founder and CEO of Leti Arts. As an experienced game developer, Eyram believes that Africa can make a salient contribution to the world of game development and preserve culture through this. He has pioneered developing the gaming industry in Africa with Leti Arts. Eyram believes preserving cultural diversity through gaming and entertainment is very important and aims to prove this by creating world-class games and comics using African talent. Eyram is an experienced game developer who designs and implements games in most programming languages based on the platform. He's won several awards for his work in the African video game development space, is a frequent speaker at game conferences globally and is an author of the book Uncompromising Passion documenting his Journey as an African video game developer.

Lisa Meek completed her MA in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland in 2020. She completed a dissertation researching the creation of space and place in the videogame Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo EPD, 2020). She hopes to complete a PhD which will continue this research and develop the use of phenomenological geography within media studies, as well as contribute to ongoing discussions surrounding videogame theory. 

Logo of Multi Play Conference 2022, capital letters M P

Research Seminar - Media and Culture

Organised by FACI Research group and Participations Interdisciplinary Research Network

'How Women can Save the Planet' by Dr Anne Karpf (Professor of Life Writing and Culture at London Metropolitan University)
Wednesday 17 November 2021 

Writer and academic Dr Anne Karpf talked about her recent book's themes: activism, climate, gender and racial justice.
How might practitioners/researchers in the arts and creative industries incorporate such themes in their work? What kind of collaboration between researchers from different disciplines is possible?

Launch of Interactive Film

'Jessica’s Story - Young Parents and Perinatal Mental Health'
Wednesday 13 October 2021

The Film was followed by Q and A from health educators, actors, Trylife film director and project researchers

The NENC ICS’s Child Health and Wellbeing Network’s (CHWN) have commissioned this Interactive film. You can view the trailer here. Developed by our local phenonium, Trylife, a true CHWN partnership project, the ICS Mental Health funding for this work was secured in partnership with the Perinatal MH Network and was commissioned by the William Howard School in Cumbria.  Clinicians and Youth workers across mental health, Maternity and Perinatal mental health have contributed to this work and a programme board have managed its progress throughout the pandemic. The CHWN has evolved from the ICS and promotes partnership working to enable all children to thrive.  Our episode has been filmed on location in the NENC and focuses on pregnancy in young parents, Mental Health and Perinatal mental health.

University of Sunderland researchers Drs. Rick Bowler, Floor Christie and Amina Razak who have followed and researched the process of the partnership and production will be present at the launch as will Laura North Laura Northmore University of Sunderland Media production student who advised on storylines and acted in the film.

Once launched this resource will be freely available to both children and young people (from 13yrs and above) and professionals supporting them to ‘try life’ and see the impact of their choices in these interactive films on a range of hard hitting topics:

  • Episode 1 Sophie’s Story -  Substance Misuse, Sexual Health and Consent
  • Episode 2 Aaliyah’s Story-  Knife Crime and Drug Misuse
  • Episode 3 Jacob’s Story  - Mental Health and Relationships
  • Episode 4 Avani’s Story - Grooming
  • Episode 5 Shane’s Story - Isolation and loneliness & Covid
  • Episode 6 Jessica’s Story - Young Parents and Perinatal Mental Health

Participations Network meeting
September 2021


ArtWorks-U meeting
Friday 9 July 2021


‘Participation and Radio’ - new approaches to participation, action and research. Associate Professorial lecture by Dr. Caroline Mitchell
Wednesday 21 April 2021

“We are not in the room”: Participation in a time of Covid-19”
Friday 19 February 2021  

by Dr. Susanne Burns, Visiting Professor in Cultural Leadership within the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland.

2019-20 work in collaboration with the Co-lab Sunderland Project