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Sydney Games and Play Lab

Innovative research in the gaming century
An exciting opportunity for up to five PhD students to join the rapidly growing multidisciplinary Sydney Games and Play Lab, which brings together leading researchers studying the use, design and impact of games. 

Games are one of the most significant mediums of the 21st century, at the forefront of rapid changes in society, technological development, and youth digital cultures. Gaming as an industry is now worth more than cinema or music, and boasts hundreds of millions of players from around the world. We most commonly think about digital gaming, but other forms of games – tabletop games, board games, urban games played in the physical spaces of real-world cities, and others – are also growing in their importance and their numbers of fans. “Game studies” is an exciting interdisciplinary field that seeks to understand these emerging media and practices from a broad variety of perspectives.

The Sydney Games and Play Lab is one of Australia’s leading centres for games research where we host collaborations between media and communications scholars, artists and creators, and educators and computer scientists in our supervisory teams. We seek up to five students to work on games studies research projects within the Sydney Games and Play Lab. The Lab is particularly known for the high quality of our mentoring, with completing PhD students consistently moving onto postdoctoral research and beyond, and students actively encouraged and supported to publish in leading journals and present at leading conferences during their candidacy. The G&P Lab conducts research in three interconnected areas, MAKE/PLAY/LEARN: 

  • Make involves innovative research into the design of games and playable media, including the use of emerging technologies such as AI and creating new games and playful experiences.
  • Play encompasses research into play cultures and practices, including livestreaming and game spectatorship, and critical philosophical and political work about this emerging medium.
  • Learn focuses on the serious potential for applying games and other playable media in educational contexts in schools and beyond.

The core Lab/Supervisory team includes:  

We are seeking to recruit multiple candidates who will benefit from the co-supervisory culture of peer-mentorship established in the G&P Lab. We will work with applicants to develop projects that build on their expertise and background to connect with our existing research projects and expertise: An indicative list of topics that the G&P lab seek students for include: 

  • A/Prof Carter: children’s play, game monetisation, transgressive play & the ‘metaverse’ 

  • Dr Johnson: game live streaming, eSports, gaming-gambling & procedural content generation 

  • A/Prof Curwood: videogames in the secondary school curriculum 

  • Dr Egliston: political economy of games, such as game data and crypto games 

  • Dr Grace: generative AI, computational creativity & co-creative/mixed-initiative content generation in games 

  • Dr Gray: The ‘metaverse’, platform governance, AI, feminism

  • Dr Chesher: Social and service robots, invocational media, spatial and visual culture 
  • Dr Rawlings: Gender, sexuality and youth in educational games 

Prospective candidates should review the research track record of the lab members as well as the list of current projects on the Sydney Games and Play Lab website to better understand the types of research that we do. Applications will have to articulate how any proposed project connects to an existing area of research strength. Successful candidates will typically be supervised by one primary supervisor from the Lab and up to two associate supervisors with different disciplinary expertise.


The G&P Lab is one of Australia’s leading centres for games research, with an established cohort of higher degree researchers (HDR), industry funded research, interdisciplinary expertise, a peer-to-peer support network and significant track record in PhD supervision. Successful candidates will also benefit from research training, opportunities for paid research work, and to host invited talks and workshops by leading game studies researchers from Australia and internationally. Scholarship recipients will also be involved in the annual delivery of the Sydney Game Studies HDR Winter school, as participants and as part of the organising team. 

Applicants are invited to submit a proposal for PhD research that aligns directly to this project. 

Prospective candidates may qualify for direct entry into the PhD program if their research proposal (see above) is accepted and they satisfy at least one of the criteria listed below.

  • Bachelor's degree with first- or second-class honours in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis based on primary data not literature review

  • Master's degree by research in an appropriate area of study that includes a research thesis that draws on primary data 

  • Master's degree by coursework, with a research thesis or dissertation of 12,000–15,000 words that draws on primary data not literature review, with a grade-point average of at least 80 per cent in the degree.

  • Demonstrated appropriate professional experience and alternative qualifications in the field of study.

For more information regarding applying for a PhD refer to the course details for Doctor of Philosophy (Arts and Social Sciences).

Please also refer to guidelines for preparing a research proposal. 

A number of scholarships are available to support your studies.

Australian Government RTP Scholarship (International)

University of Sydney International Scholarship

University of Sydney Tuition Fee Scholarship

These scholarships will provide a stipend allowance of $37,207 per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

For other scholarship opportunities refer to FASS Research Scholarships (International).

For further details about the PhD project contact A/Prof Marcus Carter Marcus.carter@sydney.edu.au.

Please note that these opportunities are open to International students only.