About me

Back in school, I loved playing with numbers and logic. I hesitated between Mathematics and History, which was my other favorite study domain. In high school, a fellow student and I had built a trebuchet (before it was cool on Reddit!) for an interdisciplinary course in Physics and History. Seen from today, I’m surprised to realise that this tension between basic sciences and humanities (and fun!) was there from the beginning. It has been key in my professional trajectory. At the time, I also inventoried the archival material of the gorgeous Belle époque hotel Caux-Palace for another History course. Later, I started the inventory of the Charlie Chaplin personal archive in Montreux (but didn’t finish it, which is one of my main regrets). One of my teachers convinced me nevertheless that if I didn’t study mathematics then, I would never do it later.

During six years, I studied Mathematics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and obtained in 2007 a Master of Science in Mathematics. I favoured courses in Graph Theory and Geometry, which were branches I found funnier. For my Master thesis, I explored Hyperbolic Geometry and studied the use of quaternions to model operations in the half-plane model of Poincaré.

After that, I felt the need to move closer to the Humanities. Luckily for me, a UNIL institute was looking for a mathematician, with emphasis on statistics and social network analysis. I got hired, started a PhD with prof. Henri Volken, and began studying centrality measures, an crucial topic of social network analysis. (This is when I discovered R and my life would never be the same.)

At UNIL, I acted as a teaching assistant for many courses (statistics, network analysis, dynamical systems, complexity, …). During this period, I discovered various aspects of applied mathematics and wrote my first conference papers. I became active on social media (a lot) and started conducting small exploratory analyses for the Pegasus Data Project launched in collaboration with Martin Grandjean.

When Prof. Volken got retired, Prof. Frédéric Kaplan, head of the Digital Humanities Laboratory (DHLAB) of EPFL, hired me and became my PhD co-supervisor. The topic of my research changed from studying social networks to studying character networks, that is to say from relations between persons in real life to relations between persons in fiction. In December 2014, I successfully defended my PhD thesis entitled “Character Networks and Centrality” and obtained a degree from UNIL (SSP).

I immediately became a post-doctoral researcher and project manager at DHLAB (funded by the Swiss National Library) to work on an interface allowing the consultation of a large archive of newspapers owned by Swiss newspaper Le Temps. In 2016, we released the interface and my contract ended. I organised a hackathon for Le Temps based on these archives, wrote a few press articles, started a new blog, took some time with my new born and…

… got hired at UNIL at the position of junior lecturer (until summer 2019). I kept doing research on character networks and started focusing on game studies. For that purpose, Selim Krichane, David Javet, Isaac Pante and I created the «UNIL GameLab», a research group on video games. I also used to be the coordinator of the doctoral program in digital studies and a collaborator of the scientific mediation service of UNIL, which is in charge of organising courses and events for public audiences. I then went back to EPFL as a scientist, working with Selim Krichane on giving courses and organising academic events about video games. I became assistant professor in game studies at UNIL on 1 August 2021.

Today, my research activities concerning video games focus on research-creation (Quatre apparts et un confinement, 2020), digital humanities (statistical studies of game databases and the specialized press), representing the quantitative in games (role-playing game character sheets, programming games), educational sciences (Agora SNF project about teaching with video games), platform studies and media archaeology (seminar INPUT, POKE & SAVE), and history, historiography and archival science (history of video games in Switzerland; history of local micro-computing; development of methods for analysing video game code; “Pixelvetica” archiving project in collaboration with Memoriav, the Bolo Museum and the Atelier 40a). In 2021, I collaborated with the Swiss National Museum in Prangins (“Games” exhibition) and the UNIL-EPFL Game* student associative commission (“Games on Campus“). I am a member of the jury dedicated to interactive media for Pro Helvetia as well as a member of the jury dedicated to the support of Canton of Vaud in the field of video games.

Here are some research interests I used to explore in the past. They involved approaching questions raised in humanities and social science with methods from mathematics and computer science: character network analysis, twitterbots, social network analysis, data visualisation and historical newspapers.

movie_poster
Poster: the character networks of 800 movies (click for the A0 version). Data borrowed from Kaminski, J., Schober, M., Albaladejo, R., Zastupailo, O., Hidalgo, C. (2012). “Moviegalaxies – Social Networks in Movies”, http://moviegalaxies.com, August 2012, Accessed on 28 March 2014.