Unlike a video game there’s no pause or save button in life. So I have found that I’ve severely neglected my blog as it was yet another thing on the to-do list during a global pandemic. It isn’t easy as a PhD student. It’s less so when the world seems to be falling apart while you’re trying to just get a step further along. And so what does that mean? We take a step back, re-evaluate, re-structure, and then proceed. No day but today.

I’ve recently become interested in affective computing and emotional AI. While Human-Computer Interaction or HCI has been around for a while, we’re seeing a surge in research in areas now that technology is catching up to the hype. Maybe during a constant cycle of isolation this is the best time to get into this too, as it means we’ll create better virtual worlds to escape to. Either way, I’m excited again about my work, and what that might mean for the next year.

Coincidentally I also just finished Ready Player 2, the sequel that formed my initial proposal idea, what seems like a decade ago. Though it failed to live up to the first book, as so many do, it was a timely reminder of how much fun I have in this area of research. Games, virtual reality, and its impact on individuals and society is an exciting field with so much potential beyond games. So what if the book didn’t meet expectations, it was a pleasant night’s entertainment that seemed to say “remember who you are,” albeit without James Earl Jones in the clouds.

So we’ll say that while I’ve completed many levels, I didn’t quite beat the boss- I just didn’t have enough in my inventory for that one. Instead, this new game seems designed with me in mind.

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