Dr Nicholas Thiel Taylor

Assistant Professor

Teaching and Research Interests

My research interests broadly concern the role of digital gaming and play in our everyday lives, and the new and re-mediated forms of communication, sociality, work and labor that coalesce around digital games. I am particularly interested in the growing professionalization of video game play, through the rise of competitive gaming (aka "e-Sports") communities and the leagues, clans, and tournaments that constitute the emerging e-Sports industry.

Theoretically, this work integrates critical perspectives on gender, ethnicity and embodiment; notions of video game play as "actor networks", as informed by Science and Technology Studies (STS) and cyberfeminism; concerns around the political economies of game-based surveillance and labor; and attention to the the material and embodied aspects of digital play.  Methodologically, my ethnographic research with gamers and gaming work makes extensive use of audio-visual data.

My work also engages questions of research ethics, education and subjectivity, as they are transformed through video game production and play.

Projects

I am currently conducting an exploratory study of masculinity, ethnicity and identity among e-Sports competitors. In collaboration with researchers from Simon Fraser University and York University, I also continue to develop analyses of communicative behavior in and around online role-playing games, using data from the VERUS project.

In the coming months, I look forward to undertaking research on the growing intercollegiate e-Sports scene, and on the communicative practices and embodied 'work' of communities involved in tabletop strategy gaming.

Funded Research

I have recently received funding from NC State's College of Humanities and Social Sciences for a project entitled "Mapping Competitive Play: Mixed Methods Analyses of a New Media Industry in Transformation". Working with an undergraduate research assistant in the Communication department, the aim of this project is to develop a comprehensive, multi-modal map of e-Sports organizations, clans, and tournaments, for use in current and future research on e-Sports.

Publications

Taylor, N. (2012). “A silent team is a dead team”: Communicative norms in team-based Halo 3 play. In G.  Voorhees, (Ed.), Guns, grenades and grunts: First person shooter games. New York: Continuum.

Taylor, N. (2011). Play globally, act locally: The standardization of pro Halo 3 gaming. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 3(1), 228-242.

Taylor, N. (2009). Cheerleaders, booth babes, Halo hoes: pro-gaming, gender and jobs for the boys. Digital Creativity, 20(4), 239-252.

Taylor, N. (2008). Periscopic play: Re-positioning “the field” in MMO studies. Loading… Journal of the Canadian Games Studies Association, 2(3).

Responsibilities

- conducting communications-based inquiry into digital media (and gaming) communities, practices and industries

- teaching Department of Communication and CRDM courses at the graduate and undergraduate level

- supervising graduate students in the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media (CRDM) program and the Masters of Science in Communication

- collaborating in the supervision of the Circuit "Collaboratory"

Education

  • PhD in Language, Culture and Teaching from York University, 2009