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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Jess Marcotte, Individualized Program

Hybrid Knowing: Preserving Physically and Digitally Entangled Traces in Hybrid Game Design

Date & time
Monday, March 15, 2021 (all day)

This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


Daniela Ferrer



When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


This dissertation represents the written portion of an interdisciplinary research-creation project that explores ways of studying creative practices with a focus on a kind of interactive experience called a hybrid game. It represents a contribution to the field of critical game design research. It builds on research from an extensive range of fields, including queer game design, intersectional feminist theory, critical design, critical game design, game design practice and methods, practice-based research and research-creation research, performance and theatre, live-action roleplay studies, alternative controller studies, autoethnography, and archival studies. From there, this research proposes and uses a methodology for studying the practice of creating interactive experiences that have non-standard, custom physical elements along with digital ones, especially those involving a facilitator. I make the case that autoethnography, though it has some limitations, is a well-suited method for research-creators engaged in design research.

I performed this autoethnographic research through the use of three case studies undertaken over two years. During that time, I used the methodology that I proposed to create records of my own design practice. Using these records, including audio recordings, video recordings, photography, sketches and handwritten notes, a digital journal, and playtesting data, I analyze the process and each project in turn. I argue that in order to avoid self-deception and arguments made only based on designers' memories, it is crucial for the study of design processes to create timely records of practice. Further, I argue that this serves as both valuable data for the designers who do so as it facilitates learning about their own practices, as well as for other game design researchers seeking primary sources.

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