Professor Listing


Mark R Johnson, PhD, BA

Killam Postdoctoral Fellow


Political Science

About Me

I'm a game studies scholar somewhere at the intersection of the humanities, political science and sociology, and I study where play and money meet (see below). Alongside my academic work, I'm also an independent game developer of the roguelike game Ultima Ratio Regum, which has been covered in national and international media. I'm the sole writer of the games blog, which has had over one million lifetime hits, and co-host of the Roguelike Radio podcast (also 1m+ hits). I've regularly written for a number of major gaming publications, such as Vice Gaming/Waypoint and Rock Paper Shotgun, as well as a wide range of specialist publications, and I have been interviewed by national and international newspapers on a range of games topics. 


My research is focused on the intersections between play and money (and their attendant ideological entanglements), such as the phenomenon of "Esports" (professional competitive video game play), live streaming on platforms such as, fantasy sports betting, and so forth. More broadly I am interested in a range of other topics in the field of game studies, particularly game design, labour, and player communities. My work has been published at journals including 'Information, Communication and Society', 'Social Studies of Science', 'The Sociological Review', 'Convergence', 'The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research', and 'Games and Culture'. My first monograph, 'The Unpredictability of Gameplay', is a Deleuzean examination of randomness, chance and luck in games, focusing on the player experiences created through different kinds of mechanical unpredictability, and the player cultures that have arisen around them. I am currently developing two new monograph projects, one into the labour dynamics of video game live streaming, and one the aesthetic and ideological content of daily fantasy sports betting, as well as conducting ongoing research into loot boxes, gamification, and gamblification.


In 2018 I designed and taught a postgraduate module entitled "Game Design in Theory and Practice", designed to integrate game studies and game design. I have previously taught lectures in modules in the United Kingdom such as “Computers and Games” and “Gaming: Industry and Culture”, as well as leading teaching on a “Science and Society” module and extensive teaching on introductory sociology modules. I hope one day to teach a module entirely about Deleuze... but hey, we all have our dreams!