Port or conversion? An ontological framework for classifying game versions

Grabarczyk Paweł Aarseth Espen
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

The notion of a “game port” appears in both: the popular discourse surrounding video games as well as the academic discourse. As pointed out in the literature, it is notoriously vague and often overlaps with other similar concepts, such as “conversion”. We show that the main reason for the murkiness of the notion of a “game port” is its close connection to the marketing narrative which changed during history. We argue, that despite the problematic nature of the concept of a “game port” it is indispensable in context such as game analysis and game preservation. For this reason, we propose a formal classification of different game versions suitable for future use in these selected contexts.


An Ontological Meta-Model for Game Research

Aarseth Espen Grabarczyk Paweł
2018 DiGRA '18 - Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message

The subfield of game ontology has seen many models and structural hierarchies, but few that actively build on each other, or even attempt comparisons. This paper introduces a meta-model, which in addition to being an ontological model of its own, also offers a method for comparison between competing or isolated models and concepts. It does so by treating games as mechanisms (Craver 2007) with multiple levels of description, and differentiates between four main layers of the game-mechanism. In the first part of the paper we present the model in detail. In the second part of the paper we show applications of the model - we present how some of the existing approaches to game ontology can be compared within it and how it can be used to describe two case examples: the ancient Egyptian funeral game Senet and the difference between game mechanics and game rules.


Ludic Zombies: An Examination of Zombieism in Games

Backe Hans-Joachim Aarseth Espen
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Zombies have become ubiquitous in recent years in all media, including digital games. Zombies have no soul or consciousness, and as completely alien, post-human Other, they seem like the perfect game opponent. Yet their portrayal is always politically charged, as they have historically been used as an allegory for slavery, poverty, and consumerism, and may be read as stand-ins for threatening but too human Others of unwanted class, ethnicity of political opinion. The paper explores the trope‟s iconography and how it is used in a number of paradigmatic games, from Plants vs. Zombies and Call of Duty to the Resident Evil series, Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3 (the Tenpenny Tower quests) and DayZ. Through theses comparative analyses, the paper demonstrates the range of usages of zombies in games, ranging from the facile use of a (seemingly) completely deindividuated humanoid for entertainment purposes to politically aware ludifications of the zombie‟s allegorical dimension.


A multidimensional typology of games

Aarseth Espen Smedstad Solveig Marie Sunnanå Lise
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper builds on a general typology of textual communication (Aarseth 1997) and tries to establish a model for classifying the genre of “games in virtual environments” — that is, games that take place in some kind of simulated world, as opposed to purely abstract games like poker or blackjack. The aim of the model is to identify the main differences between games in a rigorous, analytical way, in order to come up with genres that are more specific and less ad hoc than those used by the industry and the popular gaming press. The model consists of a number of basic “dimensions”, such as Space, Perspective, Time, Teleology, etc, each of which has several variate values, (e.g. Teleology: finite (Half-Life) or infinite (EverQuest. Ideally, the multivariate model can be used to predict games that do not yet exist, but could be invented by combining the existing elements in new ways.


Mapping the game landscape: Locating genres using functional classification

Dahlskog Steve Kamstrup Andreas Aarseth Espen
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Are typical computer game genres still valid descriptors and useful for describing game structure and game content? Games have changed from simple to complex and from single function to multi function. By identifying structural differences in game elements we develop a more nuanced model to categorized games and use cluster analysis as a descriptive tool in order to do so. The cluster analysis of 75 functionally different games shows that the two perspectives (omnipresent and vagrant), as well as challenges, mutability and savability are important functional categories to use in order to describe games.


I Fought the Law: Transgressive Play and The Implied Player

Aarseth Espen
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper is an attempt to understand Game Studies through the contested notion of the “player” both inside and outside “the game object” – that is the object that game users perceive and respond to when they play. Building on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s notion of games as a subject that “masters the players”, the paper will go beyond the traditional split between the social sciences’ real players and the aesthetics/humanities critical author-as-player, and present a theory of the player and player studies that incorporates the complex tensions between the real, historical player and the game’s human components. Since games are both aesthetic and social phenomena, a theory of the player must combine both social and aesthetic perspectives to be successful. The tension between the humanities and the social sciences over who controls the idea of the player can be found mirrored also in the struggle between the player as individual and the “player function” of the game. Transgressive play, the struggle against the game’s ideal player, far from being a marginal, romanticized phenomenon, is the core expression of this struggle.