Monday, March 14, 2016

FWS Student Highlights: Matt Altavas

What’s it like working as an undergraduate research assistant for OSCAR? Everyone thinks that working while at college is extremely hard and impossible since it comes with the responsibilities of doing my job while balancing homeworks and projects. However, on the contrary, I was able to enjoy working all while keeping my GPA above 3.85. I was able to meet a lot of great people, and was exposed to their methods of research. I created new connections, made new friends, and helped me establish my own financial support.

I work for Game Engagement, Analysis and Research (or GEAR), a student organization that focuses on studying the humanities aspect of video games, tabletop games and the online gaming community. Most of the time I help promote events through social media sites in addition to maintaining a blog to keep track of the group’s research projects and events. Other times, I help with creating documents to make GEAR an official student organization in Mason. Right now, I’m helping with a research on tabletop games. This project, by Richard Bennett, sees how often violence is used by players as a solution to achieve the goal of a given situation. What I found out is that new players more often than not use violence, while experienced tabletop gamers will often use violence as a last resort. Although there are many ways to go through with the puzzle, players usually go with violence despite being one of the harder actions to complete. I found out that this was the case because the section about combat takes up the most on the official rules of the tabletop game; more exposure to combat rules means violence will be used more often.

Working with them this semester, I’ve learned that there are many topics to choose from, despite the limited category I could choose from. Video games present humanities in an entertaining and interactive way. I actually plan on doing a mini-research of my own, and will further develop that depending on whether I want to continue with that. Working under OSCAR is fun, and in the long run, can help you establish a road to a financially sound future.