Indiana University

People | Graduate Students


Ryan Persons

The Media School
rpersons 'at' indiana 'dot' edu


I received a B.A. in Psychology and English (Writing Emphasis) from the University of St. Thomas in 2011. During my time in Minnesota, I studied a wide range of topics, ranging from the impact of humor on relationship satisfaction to the historical depiction of religious delusion in the press. It was during my final year at St. Thomas, as I began focusing on communication, that I found a particular area which resonated well with my personal interests: video games. For my senior project, I wrote an analytical report titled "The Warcraft Lense: Collaborative Learning and Massively Multiplayer Online Games." In this paper, I used World of Warcraft to demonstrate that such games are models for effective collaborative environments that avoid many of the pitfalls which can plague web-based programs.

Because video games are becoming so widespread, it is important to study how behavior changes during gameplay. For example, as a game imposes a social/environmental context, do players account for common ground between their fellows more often than when speaking face-to-face? Is this act cognitively necessary, or is knowledge assumed to be known between parties? In a broader sense, I've come to realize the potential for games to be used as research environments that induce naturalistic behaviors—a resource my own work (along with that of other researchers) could have benefitted from.

While I sought to answer these research questions as I applied for graduate school, however, my interest quickly began to shift towards video game production. I believe that games can be works of art and important cultural/intellectual statements as effectively as their traditional counterparts, as opposed to merely a form of entertainment. As such, my time is now spent learning how to embed messages within the mechanics of games, and how to craft a user experience allowing individuals to interpret said games—in their own way, according to their own life experiences—through gameplay.