Melanie is a scholar of digital media arts, cultures, and histories. She has authored chapters and articles in both traditional and interactive formats, curated exhibitions and datasets, collected popular memories, and organised the preservation of digital artefacts. Melanie's projects include:
Between 2014-18, Melanie was an ARC Future Fellow. Between 2011-15, she was Project Leader and Chief Investigator on the ARC Linkage Project "Play It Again". In 2009, Melanie was the Nancy Keesing Fellow (State Library of New South Wales).
Melanie has presented her research at many conferences nationally and internationally. Recent invited addresses and keynotes include: the Central and Eastern European Game Studies conference (CEEGS, Trnava, Slovak Republic, 2017); the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) (Melbourne 2017); the New Media Histories conference (Lodz, 2014); the First International Histories of Games conference (Montreal, 2013); the Australasian Interactive Entertainment Conference (Melbourne, 2013); and the inaugural Digital Nationz Expo (Auckland, 2013).
Melanie's research centres on digital media with particular attention to media arts and digital games, as well as the intersections of these. She is concerned with questions of participation, user making, aesthetic and affective experience and the implications of these for theories of audience reception and engagement. Much of her research attends to experimental media uses, and the issues that are raised by the creations of media artists, modders, and independent game developers. She also undertakes research with different communities of practice (lanners, collectors, home coders).
Melanie maintains dual interests in digital media histories and the present. She has been an innovator in both method and historiography in game history -- work that she is now extending in the “Creative Micro-computing in Australia, 1976-1992” project -- and is also one of the few to have researched the introduction of digital games and the early micro- era from a contemporary Media Studies perspective. She is interested in deploying knowledge from the early computing period to deepen understanding, and ask critical questions, of the current moment. In a number of publications, she has critiqued the ahistorical hyping of the present -- often based on historical amnesia or selective nostalgia for the past -- and urged the placing of contemporary developments in digital media into historical context.
At present, Melanie is completing a monograph, Homebrew Gaming and the Beginnings of Vernacular Digitality (MIT Press), & several editing projects. See a CFP for a special issue of the open access journal Arts.
With Denise de Vries (Computer Science), Melanie convenes the Digital Heritage research group.
Many full text papers are available from flinders.academia.edu.
Melanie is currently principal supervisor to 1 Research Higher Degree student: Marcus Schmerl (MA).
Helen Stuckey (PhD): "Remembering Australian Videogames of the 1980s: What museums can learn from retro-gamer communities about the curation of game history"
Katharine Neil (PhD): "Game Design Tools: Can they improve game design practice?"
Amin Ansari (PhD): "Greens’ Art: Art and digital media in the Iranian Green Movement (2009-2011)"
James O'Connor (MA): “‘The Character Feels That Way, Not Me’: Player driven narrative experiences in Grand Theft Auto IV”
2015 University of Sydney Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay competition - DEC 2015
Melanie sits on the editorial boards of Convergence: The journal of research into new media technologies (Sage), Reconstruction: An interdisciplinary cultural studies community, Replay: The Polish journal of Game Studies, and ROMChip. She is an Associate Member of the Centre for Media Arts and Innovation (CMAI, UTS), an invited Honorary Associate, Centre for Media History (Macquarie), an inaugural member of the advisory committee for the Strong Museum's World Videogame Hall of Fame, and was a founding board member of the Digital Games Research Association Australia (DiGRAA).
Recent service includes chairing the first track on "Historical Perspectives on Digital Gaming" at Nordic DiGRA, 2012, and co-chairing the 2nd Art History of Games conference (Atlanta, 2013). With Angela Ndalianis, Melanie chaired the Born Digital & Cultural Heritage conference in June 2014 (#BDCH14). With Maria Garda, she was the track chair for the "Game histories and regional game studies" track for DiGRA2017. Together with Henry Lowood, Melanie moderates the IGDA's Game_Preservation listserv. With Jaroslav Svelch, she runs the LocalGameHist list.
In 2018, Melanie is chairing the Mahoney Prize committee of the Computers, Information and Society SIG.
2018 presentations & meetings:
"Collecting the Now" Symposium, 7-8 March, NGV, Melbourne.
Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, 14-18 March, Toronto.
TechNetSA meeting, 6 July, Adelaide.
"Preserving the Near Future" symposium, 28 July, ACMI, Melbourne.
"Beyond playable games" workshop (remote presentation), Foundations of Digital Games, 7-10 August, Malmo.
Journalism, Media and Surveillance conference, 6-8 September, Auckland.
Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, 5-8 December, Melbourne.