A lot of very mad things happened in the past 24 hours, most of which I’m trying to document on ANGELINA’s ‘In The Press’ page, but in short – Engadget, Kotaku, The Verge, New Scientist… the list goes on. Lots of people have been talking about ANGELINA, and I’ve been getting a huge amount of traffic over here. I just wanted to spend a few hundred words explaining why this matters to people like me, and why I’m so grateful when things like this happen.
First, to add some context, here’s the last thirty days of traffic to this site:
Normally, this site would get maybe ten hits a day, and most of those were residual from one feature on The Sunday Papers over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and another larger feature over on Develop Magazine’s website. Of those ten hits, most wouldn’t get past the front page. In the last few days, I’ve amassed 14,500 visitors – and those are just the ones clicking through the news stories, many more have read the articles. So it’s clear that journalists drove a lot of traffic here recently. But why does that matter?
As a scientist, I’m funded by public money to perform research that is ultimately offered up to everyone. The reality is that information tends to trickle down from academic conferences, to the mainstream industry, to indies and the public if you’re very lucky. Journalists have the ability to invert this process, bringing scientific topics directly to the public and engaging and inspiring them with things that are commonplace and really tangible – videogames.
Scientists aren’t encourage to engage with the public much at all. It’s not linked to promotion, assessment at any level, it’s barely linked to the performance of a department or university. This is a problem, because a lot of research only makes sense when people are able to see it, play with it and benefit from it. One of the reasons I run this blog is because I want people to be able to see how this project is working, how slow progress is sometimes and how fun the results can be to see. Projects like Looks Like Science and I’m A Scientist Get Me Out Of Here exist because we’re out of touch with how science works and what scientists do. This is particularly true of computer scientists (in fact, I’m not sure we were ever in touch with the public).
Science, tech and games journalists are the gatekeepers that provide us an opportunity to talk to people about cutting edge ideas, new techniques and experimental projects. And, as I think ANGELINA might have at least hinted at these past two days, we can make great headlines too. There are dozens of undiscovered games projects across the world, waiting for the right journalist to give them a shot. If you want me to throw a handful of ideas your way, email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – or come along to open engagement events like Imperial College’s Games and Media Event.
Thanks to everyone who covered ANGELINA these past few days (or those writing up now, which I’m super-excited about). Drop me a line whenever if you want to know how ANGELINA is getting along.