Solomon Romney using the Adaptive Controller. Source: Polygon/Microsoft

The WellPlayed Project is on this Sunday 25th November 2-4pm (AEST). This is an initiative of The Movember Foundation which aims to use video games to help people make new friends and have a safe space to discuss men’s health. Participants will be given access to Brawlhalla and Path of Exile. They can play in pre-made squads or they can me matched with new players to form their own squad. For full details, and to get involved, please visit the WellPlayed Project Website. Gamers Classified spoke to Professor Daniel Johnson, Head of the Queensland University of Technology’s  (QUT) Games Research and Interactive Design Labs to find out more about the WellPlayed Project, video game career options and the latest research into in-game behaviour.

You can join participate in the WellPlayed Project online or in person at the QUT eSports Arena in Brisbane. Image Credit: QUT

GC: What can you tell us about the WellPlayed Project?

Johnson: The WellPlayed Project brings together people from around the world and is led by us here in Australia. The Movember Foundation put out a call for innovative projects to bring people together and build social connections in a space where people are naturally able to connect.  We [at QUT] think that videogames are a great way to do that so we suggested to The Movember Foundation that we use videogames to connect people.

We’re now running a series of events [including the WellPlayed Project] to bring people together and overcome some of the barriers that stop people from coming together to play games online. So, you might be worried that you’re not good enough to play or you’re going to get paired up with someone who shouts abuse at you, or you don’t know people who like the same games as you. We’re trying to circumnavigate those barriers and bring people together in a really friendly space to play videogames.

We’re matching players [to form squads] based on their attributes. When you attend the WellPlayed Project [in-person or online], we’ll ask you a few questions about yourself, how much you value communication, how much skill level matters to you and if you’re more interested in playing competitively or socially. Based on your answers, we’ll pair you with likeminded people [for the event]. Overtime, our goal is to create a community of likeminded players who can hang out and play video games together.

The Well Played Project is on this Sunday 25th November 2-4pm AEST. For more information and to register, please click here.


GC: How did you get involved with The Movember Foundation?

Johnson: We’re also really excited to be working with videogames to bring people together so that’s how we got involved in the WellPlayed Project. [QUT] has worked with The Movember Foundation in the past on a project called Mind Max. We really enjoyed it and found it incredibly beneficial to have Movember as a partner because like a lot of people, we are really passionate about men’s mental health and wellbeing. Although anyone can struggle with their health and wellbeing, there are certain mental health conditions which are more prevalent among men.


GC: You mentioned MindMax, what can you tell us about this project?

Johnson: MindMax was collaboration with QUT, The Movember Foundation, the AFL Players Association, University of Technology Sydney, and Mind Room in Melbourne. We came together to build a mental health and wellbeing app which used an interest in videogames and Australian Rules Football help people engage with one another, access mental health resources, play some games and just hang out and have a good time.

You can participate in the Movember Video Game Challenge online or in person at the QUT eSports Arena in Brisbane.
Image Credit: QUT

GC: You lead the Games Research and Interactive Design Lab at QUT. What kind of work does this lab do?

Johnson: We do a lot of different work around videogames and player experience. Overtime, we’ve become more focussed on player wellbeing so we look things like how games can be used to build wellbeing, how to build connectedness and the positive outcomes of playing videogames.

We started out looking at all aspects of videogames but the evidence kept mounting up to show how good videogames are for you. It’s become evident that videogames are good for building connectedness and social capital.

We also work in the biometric space, so we get people to play videogames look at the blood flow and electro activity in the brain while doing that. Another thing we do is look at how people play together. We’re interested in how people operate when they collaborate, and how that affects their experience with play and their resulting wellbeing.  We also do some player experience research. This is when you look at what makes a game for enjoyable or more immersive for gamers. Finally, we also have some researchers working in the virtual reality and augmented reality space as well.

You can stay up to date with the Games Research and Interactive Design Lab by following them on Twitter.

GC: I see that you’re also involved in the final year games design project for the Bachelor of Games and Interactive Environments. What do these projects involve?

Johnson: We strive to give our students a great learning experience and also set them up with some really nice portfolios when they go out to the job market. In the final year, students do one main project called the capstone project where they work in teams to produce a game. On top of that, they have additional projects such as one which focuses on game innovation. The idea behind this is to create showcase pieces that they can show employers.

For some great examples of final year game design projects, check out the links below.

GC:  Speaking of being job ready, if someone was considering working in the videogame industry, what are some other career opportunities besides being a game developer?

Johnson: We’re finding that more and more industries are looking for graduates with videogame skills. There are [employers] in almost any industry you can think of who are looking for people with the skills to build really immersive, rewarding, flow-inducing environments.

This doesn’t just refer to gamification for learning purposes. It’s about creative a really good immersive experience. For example, we’ve got students doing internships at BMW, and we’ve had a lot of students go on to work in mental health and wellbeing.

Don’t forget: the WellPlayed Project is taking place this Sunday 25th November. For more information and to register, please visit the WellPlayed Project website. As part of our coverage of this event, we also spoke to Twitch Streamer and Movember Ambassador, Reece McDowall. Find out what he had to say about supporting men and having difficult conversations by reading our interview with him.