mertens-jacob Manchester
Dr. Jacob Mertens

Dr. Jacob Mertens Joins Communication Studies Department

Abby Thatcher

When Jacob Mertens, PhD, was asked why he chose teaching at Manchester, he said the community was a big draw for him. As the new Assistant Professor for Communication Studies discussed his impressions of Manchester, it’s easy to see why he’s here.

“I’m sure you’ve heard other professors discuss the idea of Manchester University being one large community, but what they might not tell is that in order to create that kind of community it takes sustained effort,” he said. “It’s not something that magically just exists, and that effort made to support both other faculty and students is very evident.”

Additionally, he’s excited about the digital media program at Manchester. Due to his background in media studies, he’s confident in his ability to contribute to these classes in a meaningful way. Plus, with Manchester looking at making new classes in movies, video games, and podcasting, Mertens is more than excited to help.

Mertens didn’t always want to study communications, though. When he was younger, he wanted to study filmmaking in order to become a screenwriter or director. However, upon talking to teachers, he realized that what he really loved was talking with others and finding out their passions. Studying media allowed him to pursue that.

He, in fact, has made a point to study as many different forms of media as possible. “There’s something different each kind of media can teach us about our culture, the way we tell stories, the way we construct meaning, and so on,” he said. This idea of studying passions eventually led to the bulk of his research.

After further study into communication, Mertens realized what was really important to him: video games. “Gaming stood at the forefront of a lot of trends in digital media,” he said, and thus began thinking about the influence of said games in society. He has published chapters in two journals, exploring his ideas on games and how they impact society.

Mertens believes that when we buy a game we buy a “digital experience.” While he gave the examples of ingame loot-box exploitation and broken game development, there are positives to the experience as well. His research covers how game producers can keep releasing updates after a game is released, effectively changing the game while it’s already in the customers hands.

Because of his background in video games, Mertens is fairly excited about the Manchester esports team. He’s already started asking questions of the players he has in his class, and hopes to explore the team more as he gets settled in.

Mertens’ passions don’t end at communication and video games. His interests range from anime and comics to the NBA and loose leaf tea. He can also be spotted taking his dog Bella on walks around North Manchester. She even has her own rain gear.

Mertens wants the community of Manchester to know the following: “If anyone wants to talk basketball, comics, games, films, or any other classic nerd interest, I’m definitely game for it. Swing by my office some time!”