Media Research

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Research was conducted as part of Boston University's M.A. in Emerging Media Studies program, unless otherwise stated.

Learning through Gaming: Examining the Learning Outcomes of EEK! Game
Abstract

In recent years, the educational potential of video games have been increasingly explored by media scholars to understand the skills and competencies imparted to students through gaming. Previous research has shown that the use of games in educational environments can increase student engagement with topics related to science and technology. The present study explores whether students will acquire knowledge, have increased curiosity about engineering and gain a greater appreciation of teamwork after playing the EEK! Game, a video game designed by the BU Engineering Center in Cellular Metamaterials. Participants from non-science fields took part in a four condition between-subjects experiment. Presentation order of materials that provided participants with the real-world context of the gaming activities varied by condition. Participants were exposed to the materials either at the beginning, middle, or end of the gaming experience, or they weren't exposed to the context at all. Self-report measures, including perceived collaboration of players, level of game engagement and enjoyment from the game were measured to consider the impact of this manipulation. Results add to the extant literature about media's effects on learning.

Presentation for #ScreenTime 2022 Conference
Examining Celebrity and National Figure Twitter Postings with Efforts to Overturn the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election
About

The 2020 election was unlike any other in the history of the United States. As the global COVID-19 pandemic forced campaigning to become an almost exclusively digital affair, significant public attention moved to social media platforms. Following the election, accusations of voter fraud were present on social media, with some interactions becoming hostile. On January 6, 2021, a rally was held in Washington, D.C. in support of the “Stop the Steal” narrative. After hearing numerous speakers, including former President Trump, rally attendees infiltrated the Capitol building. The Capitol insurrection renewed interest in the role partisanship and social media played in the build-up to the event. The goal of this research is to investigate the relationship between partisanship, support for former President Donald Trump, and emotional sentiment displayed in tweets toward the 2020 election and January 6th insurrection. We sampled tweets from verified accounts only between November 6th, 2020 and January 6th, 2021. In total, 14,818 tweets were pulled. Methods included a sentiment analysis and latent dirichlet allocation (LDA), conducted utilizing R Studio.

Presentation of Findings 
Twitch Personas: How Branding Affects Viewer Perceptions of Streamers
About

Twitch is a video live streaming platform initially founded with a focus on video game content. The platform offers everyone the opportunity to stream original content, build a unique brand, and express themselves. A streamer's persona or brand is projected through interacting design elements, such as their live video stream and their account profile. Livestreams might include streamer backdrops, on-screen graphics, and content. Streamer profiles might include an avatar, biography, graphics, and external social media accounts. This study seeks to answer the following questions: How does profile branding affect the audience perception of Twitch streamers? How does stream design affect the audience perception of Twitch streamers? Viewers' perceptions of three variables— sincerity, intimacy, and professionalism— were measured through an online questionnaire. First, participants were exposed to screenshots of profiles and livestreams. Then, their perceptions of each example were collected using Likert scales. Participants ranged from frequent Twitch users to rare Twitch users. Quantitative results were analyzed through SPSS.

Presentation of Findings 
Life After Death: Memorialized Social Media Accounts and Presence
About

Social media platforms have become an integral part of everyday life in the United States. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that seven-in-ten Americans use social media in some capacity. With a large population comes a large death number. What happens to all those user-constructed profiles? Research on the deceased's lingering social media accounts has perhaps never been more relevant. The level of death related to COVID-19 has had impacts that will likely be researched for decades to come. On Facebook and Instagram, loved ones can submit proof-of-death to get accounts formally memorialized. This preserves past posts and sharing-to-timeline capabilities for “friends.” Profiles not formally memorialized, but still owned by the deceased, will be referred to as “ghosts." The proposed study will explore the psychological effects that memorialized and ghost profiles have on the living.  

This proposal served as a final project for EM793: Psychology of Emerging Media at Boston University. The study was never conducted.

Presentation of Proposal