Game Streaming Revisited: Some Observations on Marginal Practices and Contexts

Lin Holin Sun Chuen-Tsai Liao Ming-Chung
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

The focus of this paper is on the spectating phenomenon of live streaming gameplay, which has been described as “marginal.” After reviewing important non-gaming factors capable of bringing game streaming from the analytical margins to the center, we discuss the larger context in which game streaming is embedded, plus its implications. Data were gathered via in-depth interviews with game stream viewers, analyses of game streaming-related forum posts, and an online survey. According to our observations, game streaming should not be viewed as only a game-related phenomenon or extended gameplay practice, but also as a type of cross-media entertainment involving multiple media consumption characteristics—a form of stage performance, a space for social interaction, and as entertainment similar to hosted variety shows and reality television. Consumers tend to move among multiple streaming activities serving assorted media functions in search of entertainment, with their identities changing according to personal time restrictions and social situations.


Rating Logic Puzzle Difficulty Automatically in a Human Perspective

Wang Hao Wang Yu-Wen Sun Chuen-Tsai
2012 DiGRA Nordic '12: Proceedings of 2012 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

Logic puzzle games like Sudoku are getting popular for they are flexible in playing time and space and are useful in education. For puzzles, difficulty is arguably one of the most important factors in problem design. A problem too easy is boring, yet a problem too hard is frustrating. Providing problems with adequate difficulty to avoid boredom or anxiety is thus an important issue. In this paper we rate difficulty level of Sudoku problems with human oriented, general difficulty criteria so that the method can be used to evaluate problems of most logic puzzles. Only few previous Sudoku difficulty research are based on real playing data and the rating methods are limited to Sudoku or at most, constraint satisfaction problems (CSP). We found that the proposed method, despite of its simplicity and generality, can sort Sudoku problems in an order similar to average player solving time, the player perceived difficulty.


Main(s) and Alts: Multiple Character Management in World of Warcraft

Hsu Sheng-Yi Huang Yu-Han Sun Chuen-Tsai
2012 DiGRA Nordic '12: Proceedings of 2012 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

Most online games let players create multiple characters, and during avatar creation and gameplay, the relationships between players and their game playing goals are revealed. As multiple characters are developed, player behaviors become more complex. Yet a major characteristic of avatars is that they cannot act at the same time—since gameplay is usually continuous and players alternate between or among avatars, time patterns tend to emerge. For this project we employed a user interface to collect real and continuous data on World of Warcraft players, and developed an algorithm for grouping avatars owned by specific players into sets. We then attempted to identify goals for individual characters, types of set management, and relationships within avatar sets.


Exploring clan culture: social enclaves and cooperation in online games

Lin Holin Sun Chuen-Tsai Tinn Hong-Hong
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Virtual online gaming clan organizations are used to analyze social grouping and cooperation within competitive gaming communities. Participants from two popular massive multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) in Taiwan were interviewed to collect data on the social dynamics of gamer networks in virtual worlds. Our essential argument is that joining online clans involves costs and risks, yet the “law-of-the-jungle” nature of the gaming world and the interdependent role structure of most game designs encourage the formation of gaming groups. Players commonly establish clans consisting of individuals from their off-line networks in order to reduce the risk of cooperating with strangers. A typical portrait of careless and vulnerable teenage gamers is found unsound.


Cash Trade Within the Magic Circle: Free-to-Play Game Challenges and Massively Multiplayer Online Game Player Responses

Lin Holin Sun Chuen-Tsai
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Cash trades for virtual items in game worlds are now a recognized part of the “free game” business model, but perhaps at the expense of players’ senses of immersion, fairness, and fun. We review several perspectives related to Huizinga’s [8] “magic circle” concept in order to establish an analytical framework, then discuss player opinions in support of or opposed to free games, based on data collected from various sources. Our hope is that this study will be useful for those researchers who are monitoring the rapidly changing line separating game worlds and the physical world.


Game Tips as Gifts: Social Interactions and Rational Calculations in Computer Gaming

Sun Chuen-Tsai Lin Holin Ho Cheng-Hong
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

The authors look at online tip exchanges as parts of gift economies created by the players and designers of console and online role-playing games in Taiwan. A group of experienced players and tip contributors agreed to be interviewed about the mechanisms and processes of providing free strategy guides on the Internet. Their comments reveal needs for social approval and networking in addition to their perceptions of rational exchange in the interest of completing games. The authors speculate on the social norms behind tip cultures, and their influences on game play and management.


Thrifty Players in a Twisted Game World? — A Study on Private Online Game Servers [Abstract]

Lin Holin Sun Chuen-Tsai
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Online gamers’ playing on private servers has become an important phenomenonin many parts of the world. For most of the popular online MMOGs (Massivelymultiplayer online games), unauthorized private servers operate in parallel toofficial servers. Although lack of reliable statistics on the scale of this ‘informalsector’ of game economy, game providers and authorized local distributors havebeen claiming substantial revenue loss due to private servers. Game industry alsoworks closely with law enforcement authorities to crack down on illegal privateservers and netcafés that provide services or access to them. These privateservers of games are set up and operated by individuals who do not pay licensingfee to the game developer, but use the leaked, stolen, or hacked official sourcecode to run the games in their own servers. The size of private servers varies,with the number of players on each server ranging from a few to severalthousands, or even more. Private servers charge players with lower fees thanofficial servers, sometimes employing a ‘donation system’ to collect voluntarypayment and thus generate revenue. Such underground nature of private serverspartly explained why attention on private game servers has been limited to legaland economic dimensions thus far.In mainstream game culture, the private server players are often seen as eitherthrifty players who chose to save monthly fees of official server, or super-achievers who go after unspeakably fast speed of leveling at the cost of abalanced gaming experience. Also, private game servers are regarded as theillegal substitute for official servers. According to the dominant viewpoint that thegame industry commonly adopts, the role of private servers to public servers islike that of pirate music to the music labels—they are to be blamed for millions ofdollars in lost sales. The number of players who play in private servers can bedirectly translated into loss in profit for the game companies.In this study, we try to explore what motivates players to join private gameservers, why they choose to stay, and their distinctive gaming experiences inprivate servers. Our primary data collection method is in-depth interviews withprivate server players in Taiwan, supplemented by articles and messages relatedto private servers posted on local game bulletin boards and discussion forums.


Game reward systems: Gaming experiences and social meanings

Wang Hao Sun Chuen-Tsai
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

The authors give an overview of how various video game reward systems provide positive experiences to players, and propose classifications for rewards and reward characteristics for further analysis. We also discuss what reward systems encourage players to do, and describe how they provide fun even before players receive their rewards. Next, we describe how game reward systems can be used to motivate or change behaviors in the physical world. One of our main suggestions is that players can have fun with both rewards and reward mechanisms—enjoying rewards while reacting to the motivation that such rewards provide. Based on relevant psychological theories, we discuss how reward mechanisms foster intrinsic motivation while giving extrinsic rewards. We think that reward systems and mechanisms in modern digital games provide social meaning for players primarily through motivation, enhanced status within gaming societies, and the use of rewards as social tools.


A Chinese Cyber Diaspora: Contact and Identity Negotiation on Taiwanese WoW Servers

Lin Holin Sun Chuen-Tsai
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

Due to the long-delayed release of World of Warcraft’s (WoW’s) second expansion in China, many Chinese players moved their accounts to Taiwanese servers in 2008. This “WoW rush” resulted in daily contact between tens of thousands of residents of Taiwan and China, two countries whose official relationship is marked by limited contact and political tension. Instead of having short-term political discussions on online forums, Chinese and Taiwanese players are now establishing long-term relationships in ongoing game worlds. This represents a new form of virtual migration, consisting of individuals who physically exist in their home countries, but spend large amounts of time engaged in cross-border interactions in cyberspace. We call this new practice “migration without physical presence.” In this paper we analyze this phenomenon and its implications, and review the characteristics of cross-Taiwan Strait interactions at various stages of this cyber-diaspora.