Academia: The Role-Playing Game - Exploring Future Trends and Opportunities

Academia has long been known for its structured and rigid framework, where individuals are on a quest to unlock the mysteries of knowledge. However, John Tregoning, in a thought-provoking article titled “Academia: The Role-Playing Game,” draws an intriguing analogy between academia and role-playing video games (RPGs) to explore the potential future trends in this field.

The Power of Choices

Tregoning highlights the crucial role of choices in both academia and RPGs. Just like in RPGs, where players are presented with various decisions that determine the outcomes of their characters’ journeys, academics face choices that shape their careers. The paths taken can lead to different opportunities, successes, and setbacks. This concept emphasizes the significance of making informed decisions at every step.

As academia evolves, we can expect a greater emphasis on mentoring and career guidance. Universities and research institutions will likely invest more resources in providing customized support to help individuals navigate their academic journeys efficiently. Academic advisors will play a pivotal role in assisting students and early-career researchers in making critical choices that align with their interests, skill sets, and long-term goals.

Interdisciplinary Exploration

Another key point highlighted by Tregoning is the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration in academia, resembling the diverse skill sets and abilities of RPG characters. Traditionally, academia has often been organized into distinct disciplines, with limited interaction between them. However, as the article suggests, future trends may see a shift towards interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

With complex challenges requiring multidimensional approaches, research institutions will likely encourage scholars to explore various disciplines and venture beyond their comfort zones. This will foster innovative thinking, cross-pollination of ideas, and the creation of novel solutions to pressing issues. Interdisciplinary research centers and programs will emerge, offering opportunities for researchers from different backgrounds to collaborate and contribute their unique perspectives.

Embracing Technology

Technology, a driving force behind advancements in RPGs, is also poised to revolutionize academia. Tregoning emphasizes the transformative potential of digital tools and platforms, which could reshape traditional research practices.

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in academia will enable more efficient data analysis, pattern recognition, and predictive modeling. Researchers can leverage AI to sift through vast amounts of information swiftly and discover hidden patterns and connections, accelerating the pace of scientific discovery. Collaborative platforms and virtual environments will facilitate global collaborations, breaking down geographical barriers and enabling extensive knowledge-sharing.

Predictions and Recommendations

The future trends discussed by Tregoning in academia present exciting opportunities for both researchers and institutions. However, certain challenges need to be addressed to harness these potentials fully:

  1. Digital Literacy: As technology becomes increasingly embedded in academic practices, it is crucial to ensure that researchers receive comprehensive training in digital literacy. Institutions should prioritize offering workshops and courses that equip researchers with the necessary skills to navigate digital tools effectively.
  2. Mentorship Programs: To facilitate informed decision-making, institutions should establish robust mentorship programs that pair experienced faculty members with early-career researchers. These mentorship relationships can provide guidance, support, and industry insights tailored to the individual’s aspirations.
  3. Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration: Research institutions should promote a culture of collaboration and interdisciplinary exploration. This can be achieved through organizing conferences, workshops, and funding initiatives that encourage researchers from different fields to collaborate on common research goals.
  4. Transparent Evaluation: Academic evaluation systems should adapt to acknowledge and value interdisciplinary research. Traditional metrics of success and impact may require reevaluation to accommodate the diverse outcomes and contributions resulting from interdisciplinary collaboration.

As academia assimilates the lessons from RPGs, embracing the power of choices, encouraging interdisciplinary exploration, and leveraging technology, it will evolve into a more vibrant, dynamic, and impactful realm of knowledge creation. By implementing the recommendations outlined above, institutions can navigate this transformation effectively and empower researchers to unlock their full potential.


Tregoning, J. (2023). Academia: The Role-Playing Game. Nature. Published online: 19 December 2023. doi:10.1038/d41586-023-04080-5