Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies



Image of Helen Kennedy

Helen Kennedy

Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries, Faculty of Arts



My career has been characterised by my passion for the integration of research, innovative curriculum development and collaborative and creative partnerships. I began her academic career at the University of Gloucestershire as a Senior Lecturer in Media Communications working in a mixed practice and theory environment. Within the first year I took on the Field Leadership responsibility overseeing staffing, pedagogic strategies and the research development of the practice based staff within the Department. I then moved to the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of the West of England (UWE) in 2002 and spent the following seven years inaugurating and developing the Play Research Group (PRG) and the Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) as key international nodes in the field of Game Studies through seminars, symposia, conferences and visiting fellowships. During this period I published widely and collaboratively with the other wonderful members of the PRG and DCRC - in the process we established a distinctly British Game Studies approach to the examination of computer games, everyday technologies of play and the wider ludification of culture.

In 2013 I moved to Brighton to take on a Deputy Head role leading and managing a very large school of Art, Design and Media and became Head of the newly formed School of Media in February 2016. I left Brighton in August 2019 to take up the position as Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries here at Nottingham.

My current research interests are feminist interventions into games culture and the creative industries more generally, immersive experience design, and cultural evaluation. I was Principal Investigator on an international project aimed at the transformation of games ( from 2015 - 2021. Since 2014, I have been researching experiential cinema as an aspect of the ludification of contemporary culture with Professor Sarah Atkinson at King's College London with whom I have co-authored a number of key, field establishing publications. I have led and am currently leading a number of funded projects in the area of immersive experiences - XR Circus, Surround Stories and Live, Experiential and Digital Diversification.

Teaching Summary

I am currently teaching modules at BA and MA level that are concerned with contemporary understandings of the Creative and Cultural Industries. Although these encompass a broad sense of the field I… read more

Research Summary

Currently co-leading an ERDF funded project supporting SME engagement with Immersive Technologies. The project is called Live and Experiential Digital Diversification: Nottingham (LEADD:NG) and more… read more

I am currently teaching modules at BA and MA level that are concerned with contemporary understandings of the Creative and Cultural Industries. Although these encompass a broad sense of the field I bring a particular focus on the innovations within the film and games industries around immersive experience design. I also embed issues of diversity and inclusion in all my module teaching paying particular attention to the intersectional nature of structures of exclusion and oppression.

I have more than 20 years of experience teaching on all aspects of feminist theory, cultural and media studies, game studies, virtual reality, interactive experiences, science communication (particularly in relation to sustainability) and play theory.

Current Research

Currently co-leading an ERDF funded project supporting SME engagement with Immersive Technologies. The project is called Live and Experiential Digital Diversification: Nottingham (LEADD:NG) and more information is available here:

I have also been researching play design processes through a piece of collaborative practice: The Guild, Collaborative Game funded as part of AHRC Connected Communities grant D4D, with Diane Carr (UCL) and Splash and Ripple a short documentation can be found here:

I am also in the final stages of writing up the outcomes and reports from a 5 year partnership grant funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) entitled Refiguring Innovation in Games. The project engaged academics and industry stakeholders in the UK, Europe, Canada and the US. This project supported the research that underpinned my article: Game Jam as Feminist Methodology: The Affective Labors of Intervention in the Ludic Economy that can be accessed here:

I am also working with Alex Stolz and Professor Sarah Atkinson on understanding the key challenges and priorities for the film industry (particularly as this converges with games technologies) we have published two reports together in 2020 and 2021. They are both accessible via my publication link.

Past Research

I have been researching the intersection of film and game through the phenomena of live, experential and immersive Cinema that has led to a number of publications - see publications for a list of those. There is a wealth of documentation of all the events and collaborations that have underpinned this research on our website

I also worked with collaborator Professor Sarah Atkinson from King's College London to co-write, direct and produce a short film about this research entitled - Live Cinema: Walking the Tightrope Between Stage and Screen (2019) which was nominated for Learning on Screen Best Film Award 2020. We didn't win but we got some great feedback.

I was Principal Investigator, on a funded project within the AHRC, Immersive Experience Call: XR: Circus AH/R010234/1 Jan - Dec 2018 (£65k). The project was led by a consortium including the University of Brighton and King's College London, Without Walls, Freedom Festival Arts Trust, Sea Change Arts and Lighthouse Arts. We brought together artists and organisations to be part of an intense co-laboratory with scientists and technicians to design and devise new 3-5 minute performances that make use of immersive technology.

To develop the new work we hosted a series of developmental laboratories for participating artists led by leading scientists and technicians including Professor Kelly Snook, former NASA scientist and co-founder of the Mi Mu collective of specialist musicians, artists, scientists and technologists developing cutting-edge wearable technology for the performance and composition of music ( and co-inventor of the Mi Mu gloves which have been used by Imogen Heap, Arianna Grande, and Chagall amongst others; Marley Cole, award winning sound designer specialising in spatialised and surround sound design and Jeremiah Ambrose, expert in gaze controlled VR and 360 film and Unity programmer. The artists worked with new immersive technologies including VR (virtual reality) AR (augmented reality), 360 film, spatial audio, haptic technology (controlled by touch or movement), location based technology and live broadcasting technology to devise 5 new performances which were launched at the Brighton Spiegeltent as part of the Brighton Festival in 2018.

I worked for 2 years with Professor Sarah Atkinson and Limina Immersive founder Catherine Allen, to devise a series of activities and interventions to address the challenges facing women working in Virtual Reality. These collaborations culminated in a vision statement, a policy advisory document and several industry event presentations and discussions. We also worked with Immerse UK to run a stakeholder event with key funders and technologists to enlist their commitment to the vision. The vision statement can be found here: My research in to Virtual Reality technologies also led to two academic outputs - one offering a methodological framework for researching VR experiences and the other outlining the innovation ecosystems through which new collaborations were forming to advance the creative potentials of immersive technologies. These are both available via my publications link.

Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies

University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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