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Joanna Cuttell (Teaching Fellow)

Joanna Cuttell

I am interested in how we can apprehend, analyse and discuss the affective and immersive qualities of our interaction with digital objects. I primarily explore this problem through the lenses of affect, media theory, and cultural theory. As a keen gamer, AAA videogames are the focus of my research.

My doctoral thesis, ‘Trauma, Accumulation and Ethical Action in Affective-Immersive Gaming’, interrogated the relationship between the researcher and immersive media ecology through developing an affective-immersive participatory method which builds on autoethnography and makes central the researcher's experience. In so doing, it attained critical purchase on the affective and embodied experience of narrative, immersive, and mechanic game elements. Three overarching themes emerged from this research: the affective and persuasive elements of immersive engagement; the players’ ability to agentfully negotiate the freedoms and constraints of the gameworld; and the ideological positioning of the player within certain subjectivities. By considering how trauma, spectacle, incentivisation of accumulation, and ‘moral’ game mechanics are deployed within AAA games, this thesis revealed broader cultural tensions surrounding identification and immersion – specifically regarding questions of affect, desire, and ethical decision-making.

Research Profile

Digital methods and methodologies; affect theory; immersion; game studies; sociology of gender; Chinese and Japanese religion, and Japanese girls’ culture.


I have a BA in Chinese Studies and an MA in Contemporary China, both from the University of Manchester. I have been fortunate enough to receive several pools of funding for my research. My PhD was funded by the Department of Sociology, the Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust, and Funds for Women Graduates, and my MA in Contemporary China at the University of Manchester was funded by a British Inter-University China Centre scholarship.

During my PhD I taught for four years on various modules concerning media, culture, gender, and consumerism within the Department of Sociology.

Modules Taught

IM904 - Digital Objects, Digital Methods

IM922 - Playful Media: Ludification in the Digital Age


"Reader, Viewer, Player: The 'I' in Textual Analysis." Centre for the Study of Women and Gender Graduate Blog [peer reviewed]. 16 January 2016.

"Arguing for an Immersive Method: Reflexive Meaning-Making, the Visible Researcher, and Moral Responses to Gameplay." Journal for Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology. Special Issue: Video Games and Insightful Gameplay. Vol 6 No 1. Summer 2015.

"More Pixels, More Pleasure?" Warwick Knowledge Centre. March 2014.

"Don't Hate the Player, Don't Hate the Game" Warwick Knowledge Centre. July 2013.


"Traumatic Prologues and Ethical Responses." DiGRA UK (Digital Games Reseach Association UK), University of Salford, 5 May 2017.

"The Traumatised Player (Character): Immersive Gaming, Violent Spectacle, and the Drive to Master." Centre for the Study of Women and Gender Graduate Seminar. 27 January 2016.

Radio interview about my research. Radio Plus 101.5FM. 9 December 2013.

"Ludology 101: A Brief Introduction to Games Studies". PG TalkFest. 21 May 2013. Watch the video here.


As well as being a gamer, I enjoy singing, playing the lever harp, dress-making, and caring for my many guinea pigs.

Joanna Cuttell


Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies
University of Warwick

Tel: (+44) 024 765 74758

Term 3 office hours: Wednesdays 9:30-10:30 and 14:00-15:00 (week 6: Weds 13:00-15:00)