Co-Creative Game Design in MMORPGs

Prax Patrick
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper proposes a model for co-creation of games as alternative media. The model uses actual play practices to understand the political and cultural influence co-creation might have in the relationship between the owner of the game and the players. The model requires for player creation of a text or communication infrastructure that changes the properties of the game from which play emerges not only for the player herself but for a considerable group of players who share a particular practice of play. This change has to be accomplished not only by playing the game but through changing how others play it in a distinct creative activity. It needs to have the potential to subvert or contest the original design of the game. This model is useful for understanding different kinds of player co-creation as well as the extend of co-creative game design and can be a tool for political work towards participatory cultural production in games.


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.


Inviting Grief into Games: The Game Design Process as Personal Dialogue

Harrer Sabine Schoenau-Fog Henrik
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper investigates how designers might initiate a dialogue with underrepresented groups, infusing design with individuals’ personal stories and imaginations. It does so alongside the example of Jocoi, a game aiming at mediating the experience of loss and grief over a dead baby. Apart from being a taboo subject in general, there is no explanation for the absence of this fairly common experience in games. Drawing on the emotional worlds and tastes of individuals identifying as bereft parents, Jocoi involved a collaboration with an Austrian self-help group for affected parents. The stories of four informants then served as an initial orientation point marking out the direction of our ensuing game design process. Working out central themes, needs and concerns conveyed by the group, the aim was to address some of their emotional challenges appropriately through a game such as 벳무브 코드. The paper first presents a rationale for the chosen method of collaboration. Most importantly, we embrace a paradigmatic shift from game design as the production of meaning and emotion towards game design as facilitation or mediation. The second section will zoom in to the concrete tools and stages we used in our our facilitation process with Jocoi. It will trace key moments in moving from kick-off workshop to the final game. Finally, the ensuing discussion will highlight learnings for a broader understanding of introducing diversity into games. The question of appropriateness seems to be of particular importance for game designers. It is a matter of maintaining a balance between active listening and autonomous creative practice. The project is part of an ongoing PhD project on loss and grief in games.


Independent gamework and identity: Problems and subjective nuances

Guevara-Villalobos Orlando
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

In this paper, I suggest to explore industry experiences, ideas and beliefs that motivate game developers to go ‘indie’ or engage as independent workers in their productive life. Through this analysis, we can observe the politics and cultural features that inform different trajectories and approaches to independent gamework. These subjective configurations become markers that allow us to understand with more detail the contested and varied nature of the independent developers’ identity. The identities of independent development are embedded within the economic and cultural structures that harness specific forms to understand and embody their sense of autonomy. Constrained by the demands of their work, developers struggle to make sense or to justify their choices as ‘authentically independent’, revealing subjective affinities and consent between market, political and artistic ideas.


Time to Reminisce and Die: Representing Old Age in Art Games

Cosima Rughiniș Elisabeta Toma Răzvan Rughiniș
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Gender has recently increased in relevance as a game analysis topic. Representations of masculinity and femininity in games have become a growing interest for scholars. Still, little has been written about representations of aging and older persons. Starting from this status-quo, we propose an analysis of age displays in a subtype of video games, namely casual art games. These are designed to encourage reflexivity and perspective-taking on a given topic, examining the human condition and offering a critical view of society. We examine several casual art games and we discuss how they depict and model older characters and the process of aging: What are the game-based narratives of aging? How are elderly characters portrayed and what place do they take in the emerging game story? How do game mechanics model the situation of ‘old age’ and the process of ‘aging’?


How gaming achieves popularity: The case of The Smash Brothers

Elmezeny Ahmed Wimmer Jeffrey
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Using a case example of the crowd-funded YouTube documentary The Smash Brothers, the study explores how digital game culture is represented in media. The units for a qualitative content analysis, as described by Krippendorf (2004), are defined through thematic distinction. The results refer to four major categories and compose digital game culture as a whole: game, gamer, gameplay and game community. The interaction between gamer and game (gameplay) is the most featured element in the documentary. Gamers were shown to be individuals, athletes, celebrities and artists. Gameplay was also depicted to be of varying nature and in opposition, considered both a sport and an art. The specific game community is portrayed as being a large, friendly and sociable community. Based on the findings, further research can be facilitated in order to study the representations of digital game cultures in other forms of social media, as well as mass media and public discourse.


Ethical Recognition of Marginalized Groups in Digital Games Culture

Hammar Emil Lundedal
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

In this paper I argue that moral agents are obligated to include and pay respect to the equal treatment, equal opportunities and justice of groups and identities usually marked by marginalization, discrimination and/or oppression in the domain of digital games. As a result, I point towards how individual and collective moral agents in digital games culture can pay respect through recognition and affirmation of different groups and identities. At first I establish what constitutes a group and my definition of marginalization. This allows me to identify which specific groups are marginalized in digital games through a literature overview of different research into the representation and inclusion of said group identities. This demarcation and identification of marginalized groups allow me to further propose the ways in which marginalization and discrimination occurs and is reproduced in the domain of digital games. In turn, I propose the ways in which this marginalization and discrimination can be curbed through recognition and affirmation of marginalized groups. As such, I provide and identify the ethical aspects and general actions that moral agents are confronted with and called to act upon. This results in specific suggestions on how moral agents within the domain of digital games are morally obligated to include and pay respect to groups and identities usually marked by marginalization, discrimination, and oppression.


Applying the Two-Factor-Theory to the PLAY Heuristics

Strååt Björn Warpefelt Henrik
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

It is a common practice to use heuristic evaluations to assess usability and user experience of digital systems. Video games are no exception. Several video game researchers have presented different lists of best practice, design patterns, principles and heuristics over the last decade. The authors of this paper wanted to see if there is an aspect of priority that can be applied to an existing set of video game heuristics and if it is possible to classify the heuristics according to type. This study uses a survey where the participants were asked to classify Desurvire and Wiberg’s (2009) PLAY heuristics according to Herzberg’s theory into either Hygiene Factors or Motivators. The participants were instructed to view Hygiene Factors as essential to ensure functionality for an enjoyable play experience, while Motivators are mostly aimed at polishing the experience. The method used in this study is inspired by a previous work, where web design heuristics were classified in a similar manner. Results show that the method is applicable, and that it yields interesting results. Preliminary results indicate that mainly heuristics that consider usability are perceived as Hygiene Factors while the heuristics classified as Motivators consider other topics, such as storyline and immersion. Interestingly, the PLAY heuristics are evenly split between these two categories.


Cues and insinuations: Indicating affordances of non-player character using visual indicators

Warpefelt Henrik
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Non-player characters (NPCs) provide an important service in video games in that they provide an active connection to the narrative through their behavior, as if they were actors in a play. In this study, we aim to explore in what ways the visual appearance of an NPC affects how players perceive their role in the game, and what criteria players use to evaluate the role of NPCs based on visual information. This is done by performing a survey of players, where the respondents are asked to determine the role that a number of NPCs had given their visual appearance, and describe how they decided the roles of the NPCs.


Gaming Experience as a Prerequisite for the Adoption of Digital Games in the Classroom?

Hoblitz Anna
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper addresses the question of how the gaming experiences of students and their attitudes towards gaming influence Game-based Learning in formal contexts. Based on the subject-scientific learning theory it explores how digital games can further expansive learning. The aim is to combine these issues to explain learning outcomes with digital games. For this purpose the paper presents the results of an empirical study with an Educational Game in a science class.