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Dr Athen Ma

Queen Mary University of London


Athen  Ma is an innovator in interdisciplinary approaches to the study of  communities and networked ecosystems. She is particularly interested in  finding out how the structure and dynamics of communities evolve over  time and what kind of mechanics that help underpin cohesion in  communities. Her research has been published in world-leading journals,  with recent works revealing the organisation of collaborative science in  the UK (in PNAS highlight), uncovering how ecological networks rewire under drought (front cover of Nature Climate Change), and how agricultural ecosystems are resilient to changes in farming management (in Nature Ecology and Evolution).

Online multiplayer games naturally form a platform for social  relationships to develop, and deciphering the social structure and  dynamics of the communities formed will provide insights into many  aspects in games, ranging from users engagement and retention to team  formation. For example, matchmaking enables users to find other players  who share similar profiles, interests as well as skills and personality;  has been seen as an important tool for establishing and maintaining a  thriving gaming community.

Athen is keen to explore novel ways to use advances in social network  analysis to investigate player communities in games across multiple  network scales, so as to better understand their formation and  evolution. Findings from this research will help identify/predict the  type of social interactions that will promote the level of engagement  among players and community cohesion, paving the way for designing  in-game activities that will foster long-time engagement and retention.


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