Meet Dean Meet Dean

Name: Dean Bowman

School: Arts Media and American Studies (Film Television and Media Studies)

Research Area: Game studies

Bio: Dean Bowman is finishing a PhD on the role of narrative in videogames at UEA, and for the last 4 years has taught Games Studies at the Norwich University of the Arts’ TIGA award winning Game Design department. He has written on such diverse topics as the digital brand of Jason Statham, gender and technology in Goldeneye, boardgames and colonialism, and the subversive nature of the Walking Simulator.

Dean's Video Dean's Video

Video Transcript

So I'm Dean Bowman and I am studying how video game designers tell stories in their games and specifically how they go about kind of reconciling storytelling with gameplay. 

What is your research important?

Video games have become the way an entire generation chooses to express itself, they've become incredibly important in the last twenty years or so, the latest estimate is that the global games industry is worth over 90 billion dollars. 

What could it mean in the real world?

But my approach to this topic is to interview game designers which has traditionally been an approach that's been ignored by academic game studies who tend to focus on the product or the player, so for me this is a way to kind of create bridges between academia and the industry.

What has been your favourite moment so far?

So I've had the opportunity to speak to some incredibly creative, interesting designers including Steve Gaynor who worked on the BioShock series and Gone Home, Rhianna Pratchett who broke the latest Tomb Raider reboot and Lucas Pope who created the wonderful Papers Please and all of these people are incredibly intelligent and think very deeply about their craft, so their approach to thinking about games is highly relevant to academia and they're just really interesting people as well.


What's the most surprising thing that you learnt from your research?

I discovered and fell in love with Actor-Network Theory and the writings of French sociologist Bruno Latour in my second year which changed everything for me. It gave me a completely new way of looking at not only media industries and institutions, but the entire world in all its complexity. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be such a theory head, but now I often fall asleep reading books by Foucault or Latour as frequently as I do playing my Nintendo Switch!


What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on an edited special addition of a journal with my supervisor Dr Rayna Dennison and two fellow early career researchers expanding the panel we delivered at the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) conference in Kyoto, Japan. Our panel was on transmedia storytelling and fandom around the Kingdom Hearts series of games. Additionally, I’m starting to shop my PhD to publishers to see if there is interest in releasing it as a book.


What advice would you give someone looking to study a postgraduate research degree at UEA?

Make sure you think long and hard about your research topic, since it’s something you’ll be spending 3-6 years of your life absorbed in. Not only will this help you to get the funding you need but will mean you are confident in your idea and can hit the ground running. However, don’t be so precious about your idea that you won’t change it. Even relatively new fields like games studies are huge, and within a year of research you’ll be guaranteed to find scholars who have already written on your topic. The challenge is to constantly tweak and course correct your topic over the years as you become more familiar with the research.


How did doing your PhD at UEA affect what you are doing now?

I wouldn’t be teaching video game design and game studies at one of the most prestigious courses in the country if it wasn’t for my PhD. It’s opened so many doors for me and really helped me transition from my former career as a graphic designer for lifestyle magazines to a scholar and teacher.