My name is Michael James Heron, and I’m a lecturer in computing science and digital media. This page serves as a container for all the various things with which I’m involved. My research interests are accessibility, games, and especially accessibility in games. You can see my published work here.
I have taught for a decade in both further and higher education, and some of my teaching materials can be found at my wiki. I am also the owner, admin and lead developer of Epitaph: a text-based MMO set in the grim darkness of the zombie apocalypse.
My primary research interests are in accessibility, computer games, and accessibility in computer games. I believe inclusivity in technology to be one of the most important elements for ensuring that all members of society can participate equally within the emerging digital economy (Heron, 2016), and that lack of access to technology can be stigmatizing, especially when considering younger individuals and entertainment technology (Heron, 2012; Vickers, Istance and Heron, 2013). I am also an academic critic of video games, with some of my thoughts outlined in Heron (2017); Heron (2015a); Heron and Belford (2015a); Heron and Belford (2014b) and Heron and Belford (2014c). I am also interested in the accessibility of tabletop games (Heron, Belford, Reid & Crabb, 2018) which I see as being part of a growing convergence of tabletop games and video games into simple ‘games’ (Heron, 2018).
Linked to this is an ongoing interest in computer ethics, social responsibility, and professional issues. My work on that topic can be found, in part, in Heron and Belford (2014a), Heron and Belford (2015b), Heron and Belford (2015c) and Heron and Belford (2015d). Much of my work in other areas includes a strong dose of ethic and moral investigation even when it is not the primary focus.
My current research focuses on expanding the technical framework described in Heron (2011) and Heron, Hanson and Ricketts (2013a, 2013b, 2013c) to include more streams of input and more configuration choices over more operating systems and contexts. I am also investigating the potential of text-based systems such as interactive fiction and multi-user dungeons to offer genuinely accessible environments for gameplay (Heron, 2015b; Spiel, Bertel & Heron, 2014; Heron, 2013; Heron and Townsend, 2013).
- Crabb, M., Heron, M. J., Jones, R., Armstrong, M., Reid, H., & Reid, A. (2019, in press). Developing Accessible Services: Understanding Current Knowledge and Areas for Future Support. In CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019), May 4–9, 2019, Glasgow, Scotland UK. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 12 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300446
- Crabb, M., Clarke, D., Alwaer, H., Heron, M. J., Laing, R. (2019, in press). Inclusive Design for Immersive Spaces. Proceedings of the 2019 European Academy of Design Conference. Forthcoming.
- Heron, M. J., Belford, P., Reid, H., Crabb, M. (2018). Meeple Centred Design – a Heuristic Toolkit for Evaluating the Accessibility of Tabletop Games. The Computer Games Journal, 7(2), 97-114. [Available online from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs40869-018-0057-8]
- Heron, M. J., Belford, P., Reid, H., Crabb, M. (2018). Eighteen Months of Meeple Like Us. An Exploration into the State of Board Game Accessibility. The Computer Games Journal, 7(2), 75-95. [Available online from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40869-018-0056-9]
- Heron, M. J. (2018). The Things that Unite Us. The Computer Games Journal, 7(2), 45-47. [Available online from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40869-018-0054-y]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2017). Disclosure and Disavowal: Professional Issues in the Scandal in Academia. Computers and Society. 47(4). 29-45. ACM, New York. [Available online from https://dl.acm.org/authorize?N660610]
- Heron, M. J. (2017). Pacman’s Canon in C#: A Quantum Interpretation of Video Game Canon. The Computer Games Journal, 6(3), 135-151. [Available online from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40869-017-0036-5]
- Heron, M.J. (in press). Ethics in Computer Science. In The Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology. Taylor and Francis, Oxford. Forthcoming.
- Tyack, C., Camic, P. M., Heron, M. J., & Hulbert, S. (2017). Viewing art on a tablet computer: A well-being intervention for people with dementia and their caregivers. Journal of applied gerontology, 36(7), 864-894. [available online from https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/14021/1/Viewing_art_on_a_tablet_computer_camic_hulbert.pdf]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2016b). The Quantified University: An Analysis of the Scandal in Academia. Computers and Society. 46 (3). pp28-44. ACM, New York. [Available online from http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3024953]
- Heron, M.J. (2016). Editorial: Cultural Integration and the Accessibility of Gaming. The Computer Games Journal. 5 (3). pp91-94. Springer: New York. [Available online from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40869-016-0028-x].
- Heron, M.J. (2016). Ethical and Professional Complications in the Construction of Multi-Developer Hobbyist Games. The Computer Games Journal. Springer: New York. [Available online from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40869-016-0025-0]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2016a). Musings on Misconduct: A Practitioner Reflection of the Ethical Investigation of Plagiarism within Programming Modules. Computers and Society. 45 (3). ACM, New York. pp438-444. [Available online from http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N08508]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2015d). Fuzzy Ethics: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bot. Computers and Society. 45(4). pp4-6. ACM, New York. [Available online from http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N08509]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2015c). A Practitioner’s Reflection on Teaching Computer Ethics with Case Studies and Psychology. Brooks’ eJournal of Learning and Teaching. 7 (1). Oxford Broooks, Oxford. [Available online at http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/paper/a-practitioner-reflection-on-teaching-computer-ethics-with-case-studies-and-psychology/].
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2015b). Power and Perception in the Scandal in Academia. Computers and Society. 45 (2). ACM, New York. [Available online from http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N08500]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2015a). All of your Co-Workers are Gone: Story, Substance, and the Empathic Puzzler. The Journal of Games Criticism. 2 (1). United States. [Available online at http://gamescriticism.org/articles/heronbelford-2-1]
- Heron, M.J. (2015c). Review: Rachel Kowert, Thorsten Quandt (eds): The Video Game Debate — Unravelling the Physical, Social and Psychological Effects of Digital Games. The Computer Games Journal. 4 (3). pp187-188. Springer: New York. [Available online at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40869-015-0014-8″]
- Heron, M.J. (2015b). A Case Study Into the Accessibility of Text-Parser Based Interaction. The Seventh ACM SIGHCI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems. Duisburg, Germany. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N93958].
- Heron, M.J. (2015a). Everybody’s Talking About Pop Music: the Evolution of the Cinematic Video Game. The Computer Games Journal. Springer: New York. [Available online from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40869-015-0001-0]
- Pederson, S., Baxter, G., Burnett, S., MacLeod, I., Goker, A., Heron, M.J., Isaacs, J., Elyan, E., Kaliciak, L. (2015). Twitter response to televised political debates in Election 2015. In: D. Jackson and E. Thorsen, eds. UK Election Analysis 2015: Media, Voters and the Campaign; Early reflections from leading UK academics. Bournemouth: Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community, Bournemouth University. p. 73. [Available online at https://openair.rgu.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10059/1334/Baxter%20UK%20Election%202015%20Twitter.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P., Goker, A. (2014). Sexism in the Circuitry: Female Participation in Male Dominated Popular Computer Culture. Computers and Society. 44 (4). ACM, New York. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N84609]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2014a). Ethics in Context: A Scandal in Academia. Computers and Society. 44 (2). ACM, New York. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N84600]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2014b). Do You Feel Like A Hero Yet? Externalised Morality in Video Games. The Journal of Game Criticism. 1(2). United States. [Available online at http://gamescriticism.org/articles/heronbelford-1-2]
- Heron, M.J., Belford, P. (2014c). It’s Only A Game: Ethics, Empathy and Identification in Game Morality Systems. The Computer Games Journal. 3(1). Scotland. [Available online at http://tcjg.weebly.com/uploads/9/3/8/5/9385844/tcgj_31_heronbelford.pdf]
- Spiel, K., Bertel, S., Heron, M.J. (2014). Navigation and Immersion of Blind Players in Text-Based Games. The Computer Games Journal 3 (2a). pp. 132-154. [Available online at http://tcjg.weebly.com/spiel-et-al.html]
- Heron, M.J., Hanson, V.L, & Ricketts, I. (2013a). The Technical Design of the ACCESS Framework. The Fifth ACM SIGHCI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems. London, England. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N71670]
- Townsend, J, Heron, M.J. (2013). Authorship and Autership in the Collaborative Development Process of Text-Based Games. Chercher le Text: Locating the Text in Electronic Literature. Paris, France. [Available online at http://tinyurl.com/mk6v3k2]
- Heron, M.J., Hanson, V.L, & Ricketts, I. (2013b). Accessibility Support for Older Adults with the ACCESS Framework. The International Journal of Human Computer Interaction. Seattle, Washington. [Available online at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10447318.2013.768139?journalCode=hihc20#.UYlZAbXvsyg]
- Heron, M.J., Hanson, V.L, & Ricketts, I. (2013c). Open Source and Accessibility: Advantages and Limitations. The Journal of Interaction Science. 1(1). Cambridge, England. [Available online at http://www.journalofinteractionscience.com/content/1/1/2]
- Heron, M.J (2013). Likely to be Eaten by a Grue. The Computer Games Journal. 2(1), Scotland. [Available online at http://tcjg.weebly.com/heron-text-games.html]
- Vickers, S., Istance, H., Heron, M.J. (2013). Accessible Gaming for People with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities: A Framework for Dynamic Adaptation. Conference of Human Computer Interaction 2013. Seattle, Washington. [Available online at http://dl.acm.org/authorize?N71672]
- Heron, M.J (2012). Inaccessible Through Oversight: The Need for Inclusive Game Design. The Computer Games Journal 1(1). Glasgow, Scotland. [Available online at http://tcjg.weebly.com/heron.html]
- Heron, M.J., Hanson, V., & Ricketts, I. (2011). Accessibility Support with the ACCESS Framework. Digital Engagement ’11. Newcastle, United Kingdom.
- Heron, M.J. (2011). The ACCESS Framework: Reinforcement Learning for Accessibility and Cognitive Support for Older Adults (Doctoral dissertation). [Available online at http://hdl.handle.net/10588/4902]
- Heron, M.J. & Bown, J. (2003). Searching Trait Space. Poster session presented at the European Conference on Artificial Life ’03. Dortmund, Germany.
- 2018, Adventures in Board Game Accessibility, UK Games Convention 2018
- 2017, Conversations about Game Morality, Geneva Game Convention 2017
- 2015, The talk that Pauline Belford and I delivered at Ethicomp 2015.
- 2015, My (undelivered) EICS 2015 talk on text parser accessibility.
- 2013, The talk I gave at ELO 2013 in Paris.
- 2013, The talk I gave at EICS 2013 in London.
- 2011, The talk I gave at Digital Engagement 2011 in Newcastle.
- Epitaph Online – an on-going indie game development project aimed at creating a post-apocalyptic text MMO as discussed in Heron (2015), Heron (2013) and Heron and Townsend (2013). Available at http://epitaphonline.co.uk
- Meeple Like Us – Meeple Like Us is a board-game related blog with a strong focus on the accessibility of modern games. Available at meeplelikeus.co.uk
- Textual Intercourse – a blog covering issues of text-based game design. Available http://epitaph.imaginary-realities.com/wp/?cat=1
- Monkeys at Keyboards – a wiki containing various books and tutorials on the subject of Java, LPC and C++ programming. Available at http://monkeys.imaginary-realities.com.
- The Access Framework – an open source release of the work described in Heron (2011). Available online at https://github.com/drakkos/ACCESS
- Scottish Independence Tweet Analyser – As part of the development team at RGU, I wrote the front-end for our independence tweet tracker. Doesn’t track much now the hashtags don’t work any more, but you can read up about it here
- An Evidence Based Case for Scottish Independence – I was (and remain) a dedicated supporter and advocate for Scottish independence. I believe that Independence is the best course for both Scotland and England, and this is my explanation as to why. Available at http://www.scribd.com/read/134771714/An-Evidence-Based-Case-for-Scottish-Independence
- SocialSensor – I am part of the team working on the SocialSensor project at RGU. Available at https://www.rgu.ac.uk/research/research-home/institute-for-innovation-design-and-sustainability/digital-technologies/smart-information-systems/socialsensor/socialsensor
Non Academic Public Output
- Bioshock: Infinite and the Anachronistic Reinvention (2016). Gamasutra.
- Hunt the Syntax, Part One (2016). Gamasutra.
- Hunt the Syntax, Part Two (2016). Gamasutra.
- Clementine – A Truly Great Video Game Character (2016). Gamasutra.
- The Tomb Raider Franchise (2016). Gamasutra.
- Meeple Centred Design (2016). Gamasutra.
- On Board Game Accessibility (2016). Gamasutra.
- The Mercurial Temperament at the End of the World (2015). Imaginary Realities 7(3).
- The Worlds in Which we Wander (2015). Imaginary Realities 7(1).
- Saddle Up – A Personal Story about Riding Your Demon to Success (2014). Imaginary Realities 6(1).
- The Hunger Game, or How I Learned To Break the Ship from the Bottle (2013). Imaginary Realities, 5(1).
- It’s time to turn grumbles about inaccessibility in board games into a roar, Tabletop Gaming Magazine.
Conference and Journal Committees
- Computers and Society, Area Editor for Computer Ethics.
- ELO 2015, Research Program.
- EANN 2016, Local Committee Chair.
- EANN 2016, Web Chair.
- Meeple Like Us Works to Tear Down Accessibility Barriers in Games (2016) – G&S Coverage of Meeple Like Us.
- RGU researchers team up with BBC to improve digital game accessibility (2016) – Some newspaper coverage on a collaboration with BBC R&D on video game accessibility.
- SocialSensor: Sensing political content in social media streams (2016) – a short blog post for the Newsletter of the BCS Information Retrieval Specialist Group.
- Do academic social networks share academics’ interests? (2016) – I have a short quote in this article.
- My various amazon reviews (ongoing). Amazon. Feel free to throw in a few helpful votes if you like.
- How to survive a PhD viva: 17 Top Tips (2015). The Guardian.