Hybrid Board Game Design Guidelines

Kankainen Ville Paavilainen Janne
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Hybrid board games combine non-digital and digital elements to introduce a new kind of game experiences. In this study, we present 17 design guidelines for hybrid board games. These guidelines are the result of an iterative process of workshopping with industry experts and academic researchers, supported by developer interviews and player survey. They are presented as starting points for hybrid board game design and aim to help the designers to avoid common pitfalls and evaluate different trade-offs.


Middle-aged Players’ Memorable Experiences with Pokémon GO

Koskinen Elina Alha Kati Leorke Dale Paavilainen Janne
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

As the first location-based augmented reality game to gain mainstream popularity, Pokémon GO also reached an older demographic of players that have traditionally played less and whose play experiences are under-researched. In this article, we present the findings of a qualitative survey study (n=349) focusing on the middle-aged (40–65-year-old) Pokémon GO players’ memorable experiences from the time when the game’s popularity was at its peak and its player base likely most diverse. We analyzed the open-ended survey responses with thematic analysis, resulting in 7 categories and 88 thematic codes. The categories constructed were Game Play & Game Content, People & Sociability, Location, Circumstances & Context, Negative Events, Feelings and Other Codes. Through our analysis and findings, we provide insights to understand the play experiences of middle-aged players through Pokémon GO. These findings also capture the memorable moments of a massive, unique social phenomenon at its peak from the perspective of a traditionally overlooked demographic.


Critical Acclaim and Commercial Success in Mobile Free-to-Play Games

Alha Kati Koskinen Elina Paavilainen Janne Hamari Juho
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Critical acclaim is considered to be one of the main predictors of profitability of game products. Major game publishers face tremendous hurdles in order to fare well in different forums that review and rate their products. However, little evidence exists on the relationship between ratings and profitability beyond anecdotal assumptions. In this study we investigate the relationship between critical acclaim and commercial success in mobile free-to-play games via a mixed-method study. First we look at the correlation of reviews and profitability, and then present an exploratory qualitative inquiry, analyzing games with high Metascores and games with high grossing. The results reveal that the relationship between review ratings and profitability is even more problematic in mobile free-to-play games than in many other game categories. Games with high Metascores differ substantially from the top-grossing games, being closer to traditional single-player games than typical free-to-play games, with little emphasis on monetization mechanics.


Review of Social Features in Social Network Games

Paavilainen Janne Alha Kati Korhonen Hannu
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Although social network games on Facebook have become popular, their actual sociability has been questioned. In this paper we review the social features of 16 social games and as a result present a list of 30 social features in three categories: presence, communication, and interaction. A common set of features which were found from all examined games are mainly focused on presence and communication aspects, while neglecting player interaction. In addition, social features are primarily used for acquisition and retention purposes, rather than monetization. These findings are useful for the study and design of social features in social games and in other games with social network integration.


Exploring Playful Experiences in Social Network Games

Paavilainen Janne Koskinen Elina Korhonen Hannu Alha Kati
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Social network games are popular pastime for millions of players on Facebook. Despite their popularity, qualitative research on experiences in these games has been scarce. In our study, 110 informants played 23 games on Facebook and reported their experiences using the Playful Experiences (PLEX) framework. We analyzed 110 reports containing 330 PLEX descriptions and present findings from three perspectives. First, we provide an overall analysis on playful experiences in social network games. Then we focus on genre specific experiences in casual puzzle, casual simulation, and mid-core strategy games. Lastly, we provide examples of interesting outlier experiences. Based on our study, Competition, Completion and Challenge are the most common playful experiences in these games. The genre-specific analysis revealed both similarities and differences between the genres, while the outlier experiences provide new perspectives on social network games. Through the PLEX framework, this research helps to understand the playful experiences in social network games.


Free-to-Play Games: Professionals’ Perspectives

Alha Kati Koskinen Elina Paavilainen Janne Hamari Juho Kinnunen Jani
2014 DiGRA Nordic '14: Proceedings of the 2014 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

This paper investigates the free-to-play revenue model from the perspective of game professionals. To court larger player audiences and to address their wide willingness-to-pay spectrum, game developers have increasingly adopted the free-to-play revenue model. However, at the same, worrying concerns over the revenue model have been voiced. For example, free-to-play games have been deemed as exploitative and unethical. We investigated this contrast by conducting a thematic interview study. We employed grounded theory in the analysis of the data containing 14 game professionals’ interviews about their views on the free-to-play model. The results show, that the free-to-play model is something that the developers view favorably while the public writing about the games can even be hostile. The games have evolved, while the voiced opinions still talk about games of the beginning of the model. Relatively few ethical problems were seen that would address the whole model, and the future of the free-to-play games was seen bright.


Gambling in Social Networks: Gaming Experiences of Finnish Online Gamblers

Kinnunen Jani Rautio Erkka Alha Kati Paavilainen Janne
2012 DiGRA Nordic '12: Proceedings of 2012 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

Online gambling is often regarded as asocial activity. Previously players could not interact with each other in online environments. The situation has changed as internet, in general, has evolved towards a more social environment. First Finnish online gambling games, eBingo and online poker, which enabled in-game social interaction were opened in the year 2010. This article reports findings from the study which focused on the social interaction connected with these games. Based on the questionnaire data of 409 players 16 players were selected for the thematic interviews. The analysis of the interviews indicates that even if social interaction is not necessary in order to play, it is meaningful in players’ experience of the game. The different levels of sociality before, during and/or after the game have an influence on the construction of gaming experiences and connect gambling as meaningful part of players’ social networks.


Player Perception of Context Information Utilization in Pervasive Mobile Games

Paavilainen Janne Korhonen Hannu Saarenpää Hannamari Holopainen Jussi
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Pervasive games combine real world and virtual game elements in game design. A player might need to find WiFi hot spots, move to different locations based on mobile network cell IDs, or to do certain tasks at different times of the day. These are just few examples how the real world elements can be utilized in game design. The possibilities for using this kind of context information seem versatile, but there is very little knowledge about how players perceive these features. In this paper, we describe a user study where we investigated utilization of multiple context information types in a pervasive mobile game. The results indicate that context information creates a new challenge layer to the game as the players also need to consider issues outside the game world. In addition, the players found context utilization interesting, but it should be carefully explained for what purposes context elements are used in the game design. If the players do not understand the connection between the context and the game design, the feature is not attractive. In our study, time of the day was perceived as the most interesting context information in the game because the utilization was straightforward and easily understood by the players.