Jake's PhD uses motion capture hardware

Jake Thorn, MComp Computer Games Development graduate

Jake Thorn from Newport graduated from MComp Computer Games Development in 2015. He is currently a research student at University College London conducting a PhD into the "Reaction of People's Responses to Moral Dilemmas in the Context of Cyber Security".

Describe what you do
I research the psychology behind people’s decision making and how they respond to moral dilemmas. To this end, a lot of my time is filled with reading papers and books about knowledge people have already learned and developing experiments of my own to further my knowledge about how people respond in a moral dilemma situation to then publish in papers and finally my PhD thesis. The experiments I run often involve putting participants in a virtual reality scenario depicting a moral dilemma to see how they respond to it.

What do you enjoy most about it?
Using the specialised equipment that you wouldn’t find at other software companies like virtual reality headsets and motion capture hardware and using them to create immersive virtual reality environments. Finishing my first experiment, which took me almost a year to complete, was a big achievement. There is a lot of freedom to work on what you find interesting, as well as lots of opportunities to travel abroad.

How did you come to be working here?
After finishing my Masters at the University of South Wales, I got an internship at Airbus Group in Newport as a simulation engineer. A few months into my internship, I was approached by one of the senior members of the team about an opportunity to do a PhD at UCL.

What influenced you to study Computer Games Development?
I always wanted to make games when I was young, so I was always going to do a games development course. I chose the one at USW as it was highly recommended to me by a few other people.

What were the most valuable aspects of the course?
I learned invaluable programming skills, as well as how to use the software Unity which I use to develop all my virtual reality scenarios. During the Masters, I also learned how to write an academic paper which is very useful in my job. Finally, the qualification helped me get my internship at Airbus Group and was necessary for me to get on to the PhD.

I had a great time at USW and learned a lot of useful skills that I use every day in my job, but would also like to add that I feel I’ve done well after finishing not just because of what I know, but also who I knew. Being nice, making friends and being a team player went towards my career prospects as much as my qualification.