Derek's research interests sit at the intersection of culture, technology, and the digital, and speaks to larger conversations in German Studies, Media Studies, Digital Humanities, and Game Studies. His work explores questions about the relationship between labor, aesthetics, and creative practices, and he pursues these questions with both strategies of close and distant reading, traditionally hermeneutic modes of exploring meaning-making and ideology and computational methods of cultural analysis.
His dissertation titled "Machines with a Soul of Their Own: Simulator Games in Germany," considers the aesthetics, production, and reception of the genre of “simulator games” in Germany and beyond. Beginning in the mid-2000s, computer games about industrialized forms of agricultural, public-service, construction, and logistical work exploded in popularity across Europe, and especially in Germany. His dissertation asks how and why these games about work became popular leisure-time commodities. The first chapter situates the project in the history of nonfiction media, and the following three chapters answer the central question by considering the aesthetics, reception, and production of simulator games.
Derek has also published, presented, and designed multimodal research projects about a variety of topics, including climate change as structural violence, the relationship between horror and capitalism, the importance of the camera in early 20th Century German thought, "modding" practices in computer games, and surveillance. For more details on his research and publications, see his CV.