Interview With KU BEARS Recipient Matthew Cruz

In the Summer of 2021, Matthew Cruz (BA Information Technology) was awarded a KU BEARS Grant to examine if gaming could be incorporated into the concept of “six stages of play,” that emerged from Mildred Parten’s research on children back in the 1960’s.

What background information can you provide about your research?

For this project, we were researching [the concept of] “six stages of play,” that [emerged from Mildred Parten’s research] on children back in the1960’s. Different ways that children play with other children determines how it affects their minds. The six stages of play show how children interact with each other. [In] our research, though, we wanted to see if we could incorporate that [theory] with gaming instead, especially with how things have been the past couple of years.

How will it contribute to your field of study?

I’m an IT major and a game design minor so when I'm not at school or at several jobs, I’m always on a computer or on a game console. This research had to do with computers and technology, which is what I do for my regular hobby. I felt this would be beneficial for me because when I'm done with school, I want to use [what I’ve learned] toward my career working in the gaming field. Working on a research project with video games honestly showed me how much work it actually is, and because I'm so used to working on a computer since I was about six and currently I'm 29 years old, this gave me more insight on how to work with a computer. I really think that with the research that we did last summer, it really gave me a better perspective on both the gaming and computer fields.

How has this contributed to your undergraduate and life goals?

One thing about me is that I’m what you call a nerd, so I prefer working on the computer and the gaming consoles more than interacting, and the research really revolved around spending most of my time working on what I’m comfortable with made me much more knowledgeable for my degree. For anyone that wants to be in the computer or gaming field all I have to say is there's a lot out there, but all it takes is that one step of playing the first game; and playing that first game is really where the research has begun for me. I really felt that I had a good time with my research. I had to play several games, spend hours on the computer, but I had a great time and with that, I personally feel that will help with my career goals in the future.

Would you recommend the KU BEARS grant program to future students?

I say to anyone who wants to do it, it's a good idea. It really gives you a better perspective on how to research things better because a lot of people say they know how to research, but unless you do the actual background information, cross-reference your data, it's a lot more complicated than people [think]. It's good for anyone who’s either just getting started in their college career or someone who wants to really get a better look at what their future holds. The grant is a pretty good way for them to get started. I’d definitely do it again.

To learn more about the program please visit the KU BEARS.