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DRS Spotlight on Zach Mason

Date Published: 24 May 2022

Zach Mason, one of our PhD candidates, is attending DRS 2022 in Bilbao, let’s ask him a few questions …

What’s your research area?

My research is looking into alternative sensory experience within virtual spaces. At the moment I am designing and making a sound only game in unreal engine with an aim to highlight the need for accessibility in games and spatial web environments. Working with blind and visually impaired people, we have a workshop planned right before DRS in order to improve the game and gain feedback from a vital section of our intended users.

Tell us about the paper you’re presenting

The paper which I am presenting at DRS is all about a web based platform for virtual conversations called Gather. In the paper we analyse our lived experiences with Gather throughout the pandemic comparing it to both games and video conferencing platforms. This analysis is what lead me to explore non-visual and sound only experiences in my more recent research.

What other activities are you doing?

While I’m not attending any workshops this time, I am excited to listen to lots of paper sessions which can be very provoking for new ideas. I also want to enjoy the city and meet likeminded people who want to talk about digital space, design or anything they’re passionate about researching.

What are you looking forward to the most?

After just arriving back from my last conference experience and first time travelling in over 2 years, I’m really excited about another chance to meet new people. The global pandemic has forced me to be quite introverted, so getting to meet people, especially PhD students at similar stages in their research journeys is going to be great!

Have you any suggestions or tips for people attending their first in-person conference?

Having been to my first in person conference at CHI New Orleans in May, I would say the big difference is the informality compared to virtual conferencing. There will be many more opportunities for organic conversations to take place in less formal ways compared to the virtual, and these are some of the most valuable and enjoyable moments from my previous conference experience.


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