The Asylum Seekers Larp: The Positive Discomfort of Transgressive Realism

Bjørkelo Kristian A. Jørgensen Kristine
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

This paper explores positive-negative experiences (Hopeametsä 2008; Montola 2010) and transgressive realism (Bjørkelo 2019) through discomfort experienced in a live-action role-playing game about asylum seekers. Asylsøkjarane (The Asylum Seekers) was designed to create an uncomfortable, but meaningful experience for the participants who play asylum seekers and police officers who interview them. Discomfort is creating through stressful social and physical conditions which seek not to simulate, but stand in for the stress experienced in the real world process. In the debrief following the two playthroughs the players describe their discomfort and how it relates to real world issues, which we relate to the concept of play-external seriousness (Jørgensen 2014).


Devil’s Plaything: On the Boundary between Playful and Serious

Jørgensen Kristine
2014 DiGRA Nordic '14: Proceedings of the 2014 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

With point of departure in the concepts of positive negative experiences (Hopeametsä 2008; Montola 2010), deep play (Geertz, 1973, 432-433; Schechner 2013, 118-119), brink play (Poremba 2007), and the bleed effect (Montola 2010; Waern 2010), this paper discusses how games tackle serious and controversial issues in the context of play. The paper’s central argument is that seriousness is not only possible in games and play, but that seriousness is a prerequisite and a necessary aspect of all play activities.


“I’m overburdened!” An Empirical Study of the Player, the Avatar, and the Gameworld

Jørgensen Kristine
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper presents the first results of an empirical study of how players interpret the role of the player and the relationship between the player and playable figures in gameworlds. In the following, we will see examples of four genres that situate the player in different positions with respect to the gameworld. Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars illustrates a game where the player does not have a playable figure in the gameworld, while Crysis exemplifies a game where player and playable figure viewpoints merge into one entity. Diablo 2 represents a game with a developing figure, and The Sims 2 demonstrates a hybrid combination of named, developing figures controlled by the player from a god perspective. The study shows that players tend to accept all features that aid them in understanding how to play the game, and that it does not matter whether features have a stylistic or naturalistic relationship to the gameworld. Regarding the relationship between player and playable figure, the respondents do not see the dual position of the player situated in the physical world while having the power to act within the gameworld as a paradox, but a necessary way of communication in games.


Problem Solving: The Essence of Player Action in Computer Games

Jørgensen Kristine
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper will present the major findings of the author’s hovedfag (M.A.) thesis [1], which investigates how the player engages in the structuring of courses of action in computer games. Since the player’s engagement may be said to be a problem solving process, this paper presents a scheme of problem solving in modern computer games that proposes the concept of computer game agency. The scheme will be illustrated by examples from the computer role-playing game Baldur’s Gate II, and the turn-based strategy game Heroes of Might & Magic IV.


Do Players Prefer Integrated User Interfaces? A Qualitative Study of Game UI Design Issues

Ciro Llanos Stein Jørgensen Kristine
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

There has been a trend in recent game user interface design to move system information from windows, icons and overlays into the game-world itself. Along with this trend, the question of whether players prefer interfaces that are integral to the game-world or superimposed onto the screen has become the subject of heated debate in the developer community (Breda 2008, Fagerholt & Lorentzon 2009, Wilson 2006). Those who advocate traditional or superimposed interfaces stress the importance of making the system information explicit and readily visible to the player. The most obvious examples of such interfaces are found in information-heavy genres such as real-time strategy and massively multiplayer online games. The interfaces in these genres focus on functionality, with large portions of screen real-estate devoted to clickable buttons, instrument panels or head-up-displays (HUDs) that are clearly separate from the fictional universe. Proponents of integrated interfaces, on the other hand, express concern that any information channel that is not integrated into the fictional world is a threat to player immersion. These designers strive to convey all system information through features that are part of the game-world, such as character dialogue, animations or particle effects. This trend is most pronounced in games sporting a first-person view. Peter Jackson’s King Kong is an example of a game that takes this philosophy to the extreme. Here animation and dialog replaces even the traditional ammo counter and life bar. Games like Crysis, Metroid Prime: Corruption and Assassin’s Creed take a different approach by grounding the HUD in the fiction by making it a part of the avatar’s high-tech equipment. However, Fagerholt & Lorentzon (2009) present a middle ground philosophy. Whenever possible, they say, system information should be integrated as native to the game-world because it allows the player to reason and make in-game choices based on their knowledge of how things work in the physical world. When this approach is not able to present the appropriate information, however, they emphasize that functionality, clarity and consistency are more important than transparency and world integration. With this approach in mind, this paper investigates how the presentation of system information affects the players’ involvement in the game as system and fictional world. With point of departure in a qualitative study where research interviews with players was carried out, we will present different player attitudes concerning user interface elements. There will be a particular focus on how these elements influence the players’ relationship to the game as fictional world and as a set of game mechanics, and how the players navigate between these two perspectives. We will argue that there is no necessary connection between a transparent interface and involvement, and that in many cases, overlays are preferred due to the clear information they present. The qualitative data material is discussed using Hunicke, Le Blanc & Zubek’s Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics model (2004), as well as Jørgensen’s understanding of gameworlds as different constructs than fictional worlds as they are system-oriented environments (2010, forthcoming). Within this framework we investigate how an understanding of a game’s dynamics and feedback systems relate to the players’ ability to make meaningful choices. We then evaluate how the resulting sense of control affects the player’s engagement with the fictional world. This framework also enables us to discuss user interface design as a balancing act between aesthetics and mechanics, as the choice between transparent or superimposed interface features is a way to represent system information within the game context.