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Capturing the Digital Footprints of Video Game Play

Capturing the Digital Footprints of Video Game Play

Full project title: Capturing the Digital Footprints of Video Game Play


The goal of this project is to develop, test, and deploy an open-source internet platform—Gameplay.Science—that enables researchers to directly study the effects of video games. Crucially, this platform does not require direct participation of games platforms. Instead, it empowers players to donate their video game behaviour data to independent researchers by building on existing legal and technical frameworks for data and account linking.

Current research relies heavily on self-reports, where players are asked to estimate their recent gaming behaviour, but these are known to be both simplistic and unreliable. Instead, scientists seek digital footprint data that captures the quantity (how much time people spend playing which games), and quality (what they do in-game, who they interact with, etc.) of play. Such data is held by the video games industry, but not widely shared outside of rare collaborative industry-academia projects.

However, there are other ways of getting access to this kind of data that do not require direct collaboration with the games industry. The first is account integrations, where players sign in to a gaming account such as Xbox or Steam, and give permission for another service to automatically access and store the data they generate while playing. The second is GDPR requests, where players exercise their legal right in the UK and EU to ask for a copy of the data that a (gaming) company holds over them, to ultimately share with researchers. Our project seeks to build the infrastructure to enable these methods to be used more widely.

Digital footprints workflow

Key Information

Project dates:
July 2024 - June 2025


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