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Research Policy - Hold still while we get the electrodes on you


Drakkos, the dark hearted despot at the heart of Epitaph, is a university lecturer in real life. I know, right? They let him teach impressionable young minds. It makes me shudder too. Anyway, as part of what he does he uses Epitaph as a development and research platform. It's frequently referenced as a explanatory note in papers, and has been the main focus of at least one paper at an international conference.

To date, none of this research has used player data directly. From patch 1.1.4 onwards though, consent for player data to be used in academic publications has been something players can opt-out of if they worry that their information may be mis-used. That setting can be found at 'options game research_participation'.

If you do not opt-out of this, it means is that data that you generate as part of playing Epitaph might be used in future academic papers. This data will never identify you, or your character name - in academic terms, it will be properly anonymised. Only those directly involved with the research will ever see the raw data that you produce.

What kind of data?

It could be anything that we store (or will store) in persistant form. It could be log entries that you have generated, save entries in handlers, or anything currently in your player save file. Game data, in other words. What it won't be is anything that violates our privacy policies - we won't be mining 'tells' or 'says' or anything that we do not otherwise save as a result of the on-going game. If at any point a research project involving this comes up, and I don't anticipate that happening, you will be informed in pleny of time to withdraw your consent for participation.

What kind of papers is Epitaph mentioned in?

Epitaph, or the working environment for Epitaph, has been published in several papers. Sometimes these are passing references, and sometimes they are core. For one paper, the game world of Epitaph is also the setting of a fictionalised case study into ethics. Here is a list of some relevent papers:

Heron, M.J. (2015). A Case Study Into the Accessibility of Text-Parser Based Interaction. The Seventh ACM SIGHCI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems. TBA. Duisburg, Germany. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2774833&CFID=521882905&CFTOKEN=62221841].

Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2015). All of your Co-Workers are Gone: Story, Substance, and the Empathic Puzzler. The Journal of Games Criticism. 2 (1). United States. [Available online at http://gamescriticism.org/articles/heronbelford-2-1]

Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2014a). Ethics in Context: A Scandal in Academia. Computers and Society. 44 (2). ACM, New York. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N84600]

Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2014b). It's Only A Game: Ethics, Empathy and Identification in Game Morality Systems. The Computer Games Journal. 3(1). Scotland. [Available online at http://tcjg.weebly.com/uploads/9/3/8/5/9385844/tcgj_31_heronbelford.pdf]

Townsend, J, Heron, M.J. (2013). Authorship and Autership in the Collaborative Development Process of Text-Based Games. Chercher le Text: Locating the Text in Electronic Literature. Paris, France. [Available online at http://tinyurl.com/mk6v3k2]

Heron, M.J (2013). Likely to be Eaten by a Grue. The Computer Games Journal. 2(1), Scotland. [Available online at http://tcjg.weebly.com/heron-text-games.html]

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Epitaph - Epiphany v1.2.13 [release]. Copyright © Imaginary Realities Ltd 2009 -