Dr Dylan Yamada-Rice

Dr Dylan Yamada-Rice

Associate Professor in Immersive Storytelling

School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



I am a researcher and artist specialising in play and storytelling for children. Having a doctorate in Education and MA degrees in Research Methods, Early Childhood Education and Japanese Semiotics my work crosses academia and industry.

My research sits at the intersection of experimental design and social sciences, focusing on digital storytelling, games and play on a range of platforms such as apps, augmented and virtual reality, as well as new content for television, all with an emphasis on media for children.

As an artist I use drawing, emerging technologies and game engines to explore experimental visual and multimodal methods as part of the research process. In this way I take an Experience Design approach to including participants in the research process, also to connect data findings [the information] to design and production [the experience].



Teaching interests

Current Teaching

My teaching approach is research informed with a pedagogical approach grounded in learning through doing, making and interacting with materials and technologies (Ingold, 2013). I am currently the lead for the MA in Experience Design.

Previous Teaching Experience

Between 2021 and 2023 I led and taught the interdisciplinary units that sat across the entire suite of MAs at the School of Digital Arts, MMU. Between 2016 and 2021 I was a Senior Tutor and then Acting Head of Programme for Information Experience Design, at the Royal College of Art. Between 2013 and 2016 I was the Director of the MA in Education: early Childhood at the University of Sheffield. 

I take a research-led and interdisciplinary approach to teaching, specialising in (1) Interdisciplinary Practice, (2) Experimental Research Methods, (3) Game Design and (4) Storytelling and Narrative Design. Examples of how these have been taught across my teaching career can be found below.

Interdisciplinary Practice

In my previous role at the School of Digital Arts, I taught the Interdisciplinary Practice units that alternated between approaches to and methods for working across disciplines in the field of digital arts. A blog post that shows how MA students from photography, film, sound design, animation and games art applied this to conduct research that informed their final degree projects can be found here

Experimental Research Methods

In my previous role at the Royal College of Art, I taught experimental research methods teaching. This was designed to support Information Experience Design student's collection of the “Information” part of their experience design work. Each taught session took a format of an introduction to an area of research theory followed by a practical workshops for students to explore this using hands-on techniques that they were free to experiment with and push further. A blog post that documents this work can be found here.

Game Design

Using examples from entertainment as well as serious gaming, I introduce students to the fundamentals of game design, from narrative development to user testing. Examples of this teaching can be found here.

Storytelling and Narrative Design

How can interactive storytelling change the way we perceive information? This work formed part of an elective for all MAs within the School of Communication at the Royal College of Art called Exploded Stories. Exploded Stories explored the multiple ways in which stories form the backbone of communication practices, including scripts, films, political protests, graphic narratives, play and more. Students were taught about using different modes of communication, media and materials individually and collectively to create and tell stories through representation, illusion and unlikely connections. They explored this in relation to a story, fiction or factual, of their choices to build in-depth knowledge of the narrative in their own work. A blog post that documents this work can be found here.

In addition I have been experimenting with how drawing and AI text-to-image generation can engage MA students in critical reading. 



Research interests

My research sits at the intersection of experimental design and social sciences, focusing on digital storytelling, games and play on a range of platforms such as apps, augmented and virtual reality, as well as new content for television, all with an emphasis on media for children.

I have worked on a number of UKRI and commercially funded projects that include the following:

Antarctica Virtual Reality (2023)
Working with the UK Antarctica Heritage Trust (UKAHT), I undertook research to inform the initial development of a Virtual Reality (VR) experience of Antarctica.

Future of Broadcast Media According to Kids (2022 - 2023)
This project explored what children aged 7-11 think is the future of broadcasting using emerging technologies as a means of doing so. The project was funded by AHRC via the University of York's XR Stories.

Climate Heroes (2022)
Undertaken on behalf of TuttiFrutti theatre company , the overall intention of this short explorative project was to test how two online virtual platforms, a chatroom and the online gaming platform- Roblox, could be used to explore the topic of climate change with primary school children in Leeds.

Elias the Little Rescue boat (2021)
This was research conducted for Animando TV in relation to their very successful Norwegian Early Childhood TV programme called Elias the Little Rescue Boat.
I worked on two studies in relation to this show; the first was to research and write a series of environmental learning pillars to support the structure of a new direction for the programme, and the second was to understand how audiences felt about changing from purely animating the show to a mixture of live-action and animation.

VR and Mixed-Realities Play Kit to help children Prepare for an MRI Scan (2019- 2021)
Funded by Innovate-UK, Ttis was a collaborative research and development project to produce a mixed realities (physical, augmented and virtual reality) play kit to help prepare children to have an MRI scan without a general anaesthetic. Children were included throughout the research projects, as co-designers and testers of the play kit.

Play to Promote Disaster Resilience (2019-2023- delayed by COVID-19)
This was a GCRF-funded network project to explore the promotion of disaster resilience in children. It drew together academics from the UK, Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand. The initial network idea drew on research that has shown how children are more vulnerable to the effects of disaster and yet the mental and behavioural outcomes in children following disasters, and their post-disaster psychological reactions (anxiety, depression, phobias etc.) are often not identified.

Countermeasures: Giving children better control over how they are observed by digital sensors (2020-21)
Funded by EPSRC via the HDI network, this project focused on giving children better control over how they are observed by digital sensors.

Sweet Dreams (2019-2021)
I undertook research as part of a jointly funded project, with Tutti Frutti theatre company working, The Sleep Charity and Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust to support the development of a new play called ‘Sweet Dreams’ about the benefits of sleep for young children.

UK-Japan Location-Based VR Network (2019-20)
Jointly funded by AHRC and ESRC, the overall intention of this knowledge exchange project was to bring together a network of academics and digital gaming industry partners in Japan and the UK to join up knowledge, begin researching the current state of VR experiences and technologies, and to understand the best methodologies for including children in the design of VR experiences for them.

Children and VR: emerging possibilities and challenges (2016-2017)
The Children and Virtual Reality project studied the effects of VR on 8 to 12 year olds, in terms of engagement and interaction, as well as health and safety issues. The findings of the project formed the basis of a collaborative research report between Dubit, Turner, WEARVR and the COST (EuropeanCooperation in Science and Technology) Action DigiLitEY

Moon and Me (2014- 2019)
Commercially-funded consultancy to the latest TV show by Andrew Davenport. 

Bing (2016)
Acamar Studios are an independent animation studio, who produce the hit pre-school show Bing. They commissioned Dubit, who employed me as the researcher to explore how to reach wider audiences with their TV Series and toys.

Investigating the Design and use of a new Smart Toy (2016)
As part of the wider COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action on ‘The digital literacy and multimodal practices of young children', I completed a Short Term Scientific Mission to investigate the design and use of a new smart toy called AvaKai

Makerspaces and Virtual Reality (2016-18)
This project was one part of a wider study ‘Makerspaces: Enhancing Digital Literacy and Creativity (MakEY)’ EU, Australia and the Americas study. Working together with a Berlin-based toy company known as Vai Kai, the Berlin Fab Lab and Glück Workshops we sought to understand how children can use hacking and making techniques to create, design and play in Virtual Reality.

Exploring Play and Creativity in Preschooler's use of apps (2015)
Funded by ESRC, I was the Co-Investigator to this study which was a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield and Edinburgh, the BBC children’s television channel CBeebies, children’s television production company Foundling Bird, development studio and consultancy company Dubit and Monteney Primary School, Sheffield.

Developing Videogames for Hospitalised Children (2014)
This was a one-year inter-disciplinary network project that used multimodal and experimental design practices to inform videogame design for hospitalised children.

Co-Production of a Blueprint for the Inclusion of Children in Videogame Design (2014)
This was a funded industry sabbatical to work with Dubit, a research, development and strategy company specialised in digital content for children. During the sabbatical we undertook a co-produced research to explore children as co-designers in the early stages of video game development.

An Enquiry into Young Children's Interaction with and Understanding of the Visual Mode in Japan (2010-2013)
Funded with an ESRC 1+3 Scholarship this was my PhD research. The study considered the impact of increasingly visual means of communication (brought about by changes in digital media) on young children’s emerging knowledge of communication practices.

Grants & contracts

Selected Recent Funding

2022-03/23 Future of Broadcast Media According to Kids (AHRC via XR Stories £24K)

01/22-09/22 Patient Trials for MRI Playkit (Technology and Innovation in Child Health £15K and University of Sheffield £15K)

03/22-04/22 Climate Heroes (Leeds City of Culture 2023 Seed Funding £5K)

01/19-05/20 Location-based VR for Children : Japan-UK KNowledge Exchange Network (ESRC\ AHRC funded £50K)

01/20-01/21 Countermeasures: Giving Children Better Control over how they-re observed by Digital Sensors (EPSRC £50K)

01/18-06/21 Interactive Data Collecting Machines ( Arts Council via the CMC Digital Playground, Various degrees of annual funding)

11/18-03/21 VR and Mixed-Realities Play Kit to Prepare Under 10s for an MRI (Innovate UK £298K + addition £90K COVID IMPACT RELIEF FUND)




Dare, E. & Yamada-Rice, D. (2023) Queer Psycho and the HE Circus: Applying Queering, Magic and More-than-Human Theories to Immersive Visual Story Worlds as an Antidote to Late Capitalism. Presence, MIT.

Main, A. & Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Evading Big Brother: using visual methods to understand children’s perception of sensors and interest in subverting digital surveillance. Visual Communication, Vol.20 (3).

Fass, J., Yamada-Rice, D., Shelley, J. , Lewis, M. & Pappas, G. (2022). Information is Ugly. Visual Communication, Vol.20 (3). Editorial.

Main, A. Grierson, M., Yamada-Rice, D. & Murr, J. (2022) Augmenting Personal Creativity with Artificial Intelligence. C&C '22: Creativity and Cognition, June 2022 p.462- 465https://doi.org/10.1145/3527927.3531205. Published online at ACM Digital Library.

Nash, R., Yamada-Rice, D., Dare, E., Love, S., Main, A., Potter, D., Rodrigues, D. (2021) Using a collaborative zine to co-produce knowledge about location-based virtual reality experiences. Qualitative Research Journal, Vol.21 (2).

Yamada-Rice, D. (2021) Children’s interactive storytelling in Virtual Reality, Multimodality & Society, Vol.1 (1), p.48-67.

Yamada-Rice, D. & Love, S. (2019) Designing tech for health: Developing a mixed reality playkit to help children who need an MRI Scan. RIAS Quarterly, Vol. 38 p. 57.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2018) Licking planets and Stomping on Buildings: children’s interactions with curated spaces in Virtual Reality. Children's Geographies, Vol.16 (5).

Marsh, J. A., Plowman, L., Bishop, J, Lahmar, J and Scott, F, Yamada-Rice, D. (2018), Play and creativity in young children’s use of apps. British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 49 (4).

Yamada-Rice, D. (2018) Designing Play: young children’s play and communication practices in relation to designers’ intentions for their toy. Global Studies of Childhood, Vol.8, No.1. p. 5-22.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2017) Designing Play for Dark Times. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Vol.18 (2). p. 196-212.

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J. & Scott, F., (2016) Digital play: a new classication, Early Years an International Research Journal, Vol. 36 (3). p. 242-253.

Nutbrown, C., Clough, P., Levy, R. Little, S., Yamada-Rice, D. Bishop, J., Lamb, T., (2016) Families’ roles in children’s literacy, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Vol.15. (35).

Yamada-Rice, D. (2014) The Semiotic Landscape and Three-Year-Olds’ Emerging Understanding of Multimodal Communication Practices, Journal of Early Childhood Research, Vol. 12, (2), p. 154-184.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2011) New Media, evolving multimodal literacy practices and the potential impact of increased use of the visual mode in the urban environment on young children’s learning. Literacy, Vol. 45 (1), p.32-43.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2011) A Comparative Study of Visuals in the Urban Landscapes of Tokyo and London, Visual Communication, Vol. 10 (2,) p.175-186.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2010) Beyond words: An enquiry into children’s home visual communication practices. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Vol.10 (3), p. 341–363.


Dare, E. & Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Reading the Cards: Critical Chatbots, Tarot and Drawing as an Epistemological Repositioning to Defend Against the Neoliberal Structures of Art Education. In: Filimowicz, M. (ed) Systematic Bias: Algorithms and Society. London: Routledge.

Ikon, E., Wee, C., Dare, E., Lewis, M., Biderman, K., Gordon, L., Pochodzaj, J., and Yamada-Rice, D, 'Exercises in Exorcism, Ways of Healing (through) Art Education'. In: Baier, W., Canepa, E., Golemis, H. (eds) (2021) Capitalism's Deadly Threat: transform! London: Merlin Press.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2019) Including Children in the Design of the Internet of Toys: In Mascheroni, G. & Holloway, D. (Eds) The Internet of Toys: Practices, Affordances and the Political Economy of Children’s Smart play.

Yamada-Rice, D., Rodrigues, D. & Zubrycka, J. (2019) Makerspaces and Virtual Reality, Chapter 5. In: Blum-Ross, A., Kumpulainen, K. & Marsh, J.(eds) Enhancing digital Literacy and Creativity: Makerspaces in the Early Years. Routledge.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2017) Using visual and digital research methods to capture young children’s interaction with and comprehension of images. In: Christensen, P. and James, A. (2017) Research with Children: Perspectives and practice, 3rd Edition, Routledge.

Marsh, J. and Yamada-Rice, D. (2016) Bringing Pudsey to Life: Young Children’s Use of Augmented Reality Apps. In: Kucirkova, N. and Falloon, G. (eds) Apps, Technology and Younger Learners. Routledge.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2015) Semiotic Landscapes: Cultural affordances of texts in and of Japanese landscapes. In: Pahl, K. & Rowsell, J. (eds) (2015) Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies. Routledge.

Levy, R., Yamada-Rice, D. and Marsh, J. (2013) Digital literacies in the primary classroom. In: Hall, K., Cremin, T., Comber, B. and Moll, L. (eds) (2013) International Handbook of Research in Children's Literacy, Learning and Culture. Wiley-Blackwell.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2011) The Benefits of Sign Language in the International Preschool Curriculum. In: Murphy, E. (ed) (2011) Welcoming Linguistic Diversity in Early Childhood Classrooms. Multilingual Matters. p.112-124.


Yamada-Rice, D. & Dare, E. (2023) The Future of Broadcast Media According to Kids: Final Project Report.

Yamada-Rice, D., Thompson, J., Love, S., Thompson, S. & McQuillian,H. (2022) Mixed Realities Playkit to Prepare Children for an MRI Scan: Findings for health, families and industry. Available online at: <http://dubit.us/mri>.

Yamada-Rice, D., Dare, E. Main, A., Potter, J., Ando, A. Miyoshi, K., Narumi, T., Beshani, S., Clark, A., Duszenko, I. Love, S., Nash, R., Rodrigues, D., and Stearman, N. (2020) Location-Based Virtual Reality Experiences for Children: Japan-UK Knowledge Exchange Network: Final Project Report. Available online at: <https://ukjapanvr.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/nalprojectreport/>

Yamada-Rice, D., Mushtaq, F., Woodgate, A., Bosmans, D, Douthwaite, A, Douthwaite, I, Harris, W, Holt, R, Kleeman, D, Marsh, J, Milovidov, E, Mon Williams, M, Parry, B, Riddler, A, Robinson, P, Rodrigues, D, Thompson, S and Whitley, S, (2017), Children and Virtual Reality: Emerging Possibilities and Challenges. Available online at http://childrenvr.org.

Yamada-Rice, D. & Marsh, J. (2017) Working Together on Young Children’s Digital and Media Practices: Fostering Academic and Industry Partnerships. Published online.

Marsh, J., Plowman, L., Yamada-Rice, D., Bishop, J.C., Lahmar, J., Scott, F., Davenport, A., Davis, S., French, K., Piras, M., Thornhill, S., Robinson, P. and Winter, P. (2015) Exploring Play and Creativity in Pre-Schoolers’ Use of Apps: Final Project Report. Available at: <www.techandplay.org>



Reports & invited lectures

Selected Recent Lecturers and Presentations

Yamada-Rice, D. (2023) Storytelling in a Digital Age: how immersive entertainment can support childhood development. Invited talk for NESTA. (23/02/23).

Yamada-Rice, D. (2023) A visionary look at how the metaverse could change research and insights practices in the near future.
Insights from the Metaverse 2023, Market Research Society. (20/01/23).

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Games & Play to Engage Research Participants in Projects about Change. Games for Change, New York City, 13-16 July 2022.

Yamada-Rice, D. & Dare, E. Equity and the Immersive Lab: Polygon by polygon, how do we build an equitable world? Kingston University, 22nd June 2022, keynote.

Main, A., Grierson, M., Yamada-Rice, D. & Murr, J. (2022) Augmenting Personal Creativity with Artificial Intelligence. Creativity & Cognition, Venice, 20th June, Full-day Workshop.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) The Art of Storytelling. The Richmond Market Insight Forum, Savoy Place, London, 8th June.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Re-Imagining Data Storytelling and Impact. Western Cape Education Department’s Empower Hour, South Africa, 20th May.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Bunker Talks, Manchester School of Art, Broadcast online.

Yamada-Rice & Dare, E. (2022) Virtual Magic: sleight of hand in immersive storytelling. Connected Screens: Playing with Immersive Systems Research Symposium, Leeds School of Art, 30th March, 2022

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Designing with Children: How to Involve them in Research. Digital Kids Today, Aarhus, Denmark, 3rd March 2022.

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) Dismantle the Doors: an interdisciplinary approach to information and experience in the design of play and storytelling, Manchester School of Art (10/02/22).

Yamada-Rice, D. (2022) What Matters in Early Childhood Studies Now? Dialogues of Pasts, Presents and Futures" Conference, Brock University (27/01/22).