Digitising Boardgames: Issues and Tensions

Rogerson Melissa J. Gibbs Martin Smith Wally
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

In this paper, we discuss the different ways in which modern European boardgames (“Eurogames”) are converted for digital play. We review digitised versions of three popular tabletop boardgames: Puerto Rico, Agricola and Ascension. Using these examples, we demonstrate the tension between the interaction metaphor of the original analogue medium and the metaphor of a digital game. We describe the importance of housekeeping chores to gameplay and position them as a form of articulation work, which is typically hidden by digital implementations. Further, we demonstrate the types of information that are created through digital play and discuss how this influences game play of both digital and physical boardgames.


The Tragedy of Betrayal: How the Design of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Elicits Emotion

Cole Tom
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are two games of high critical acclaim that are well known for their emotional affect – particularly because some of those emotions are unusual amongst digital games. Analysis of emotion in video games often focuses on narrative and representative elements, and emotions regularly experienced by gamers such as frustration, victory, joy of discovery etc. This paper uses close textual analysis with support from cognitive theories of emotion to analyse the ludic and mechanical, in addition to representative and narrative, qualities of these games. By doing so it is shown how guilt, grief and loneliness have more chance of being elicited from the player, with emphasis on the use of ambiguity and violation of player expectations. It is hoped that this approach will encourage further work of this type in an area so that both theoretical work and future development might benefit.


Ideological Narratives of Play in Tropico 4 and Crusader Kings II

Lucat Bertrand Haahr Mads
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Ideology and its function in digital games has received considerable scholarly interest in the field of game studies, though only more recently has criticism interested itself with the ideological implications of game mechanics in conjunction with a game's representational content. Relying on an Althusserian definition of ideology, this paper builds upon the existing methodology of procedural rhetoric to examine the ideological functions of serious games, before addressing the necessity for a process of ideological analysis suited to the vast majority of commercial digital games. Through the close study of two games, Tropico 4 (Haemimont Games 2011) and Crusader Kings II (Paradox Development Studio 2012), and the examination of their representational components, the game mechanics they deploy, and the emergent narratives that unfold during play, this paper works to lay the foundations for an analytical framework designed for the close ideological reading and analysis of popular digital games.


The Concept and Research of Gendered Game Culture

Friman Usva
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Despite gender having become a central topic in the game cultural discussion of today, there does not seem to be clear understanding of the concept of gendered game culture or general theoretical framework that would define and support the study of gendered game culture within the field of academic game studies. This paper argues that there are two starting points for understanding the concept of gendered game culture and for its research: the first being how the concept of gender is understood in the context of games, and the second being defining the central gender questions in game studies and locating them in the field of game culture. The paper also presents a preliminary model for the concept and research field of gendered game culture. The model consists of the central research questions on the topic of gender and games, presented in selected leading level game studies journals and conferences and located in the various sectors of game culture. At the same time, the model reveals some of the gender questions not yet presented in these central publications as well as some of the areas of game culture not yet widely studied from gender perspective.


The Well-Played MOBA: How DotA 2 and League of Legends use Dramatic Dynamics

Winn Chris
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper will analyse the two most popular games within the MOBA genre, DotA 2 and League of Legends, as performance-designed spaces. By analysing MOBAs as performance and using Marc LeBlanc’s (2006) Tools for Creating Dramatic Game Dynamics as an aesthetic framework the aim is to posit a greater understanding of the ways in which e-Sports and MOBAs specifically can be designed in order to create dramatic tension within the increasing variety of available viewing platforms. In this way, this paper helps present new ways to think about how games can be designed/structured in order to be satisfyingly performed and consumed through increasingly diverse viewing methods.


Costume Agency in German Larp

Bienia Rafael
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Costume Agency in German Larp has two aims. First, it contributes to the understanding of costumes as collaborators in a larp network. Second, it shows that the change towards a network perspective expands the understanding of games as relational processes. An actor-network analysis of the costume builds on first-hand data from three larps. Data analysis required a set of qualitative methods based upon participatory observation and qualitative interviews. The results of the analysis are: 1. Larp works, because the costume contributes to role playing. 2. The costume contributes when it changes its arrangement of material actors to fulfill the demands of the network. 3. Costume contribution demands changes from narrative and ludic actors as well and the result of these negotiations is a development of the network. 4. The development of the three observed larp networks resulted in costumes that work towards the 360° illusion ideal, change game rules, and raise the popularity of one favored narrative genre: Fantasy. Following the costume and tracing its work, reveals how larp as a network of heterogeneous actors structures itself. These processes become visible with an actor-network perspective that reaches beyond the division of agency as being driven by human or material actors.


Whose mind is the signal? Focalization in video game narratives

Allison Fraser
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

In this paper, I explore instances in which video games convey an experience of subjectivity, utilizing an appropriation of Gérard Genette’s (1980) concept of focalization. Through an analysis of The Sims 3 (The Sims Studio 2009), Top Spin 4 (2K Czech 2011), Mirror’s Edge (EA Digital Illusions CE 2008) and Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North 2014), I demonstrate that internal focalization can be made apparent in a video game through its audiovisual presentation, its selection and restriction of private knowledge, and its ludic affordances. I provide a framework for analyzing games that seek to present a diversity of perspectives, and to allow players to access modes of thinking that accord with a perspective other than their own. This framework can assist researchers, critics, and designers to identify ways in which video games express elements of internal focalization that communicate the mental patterns of a perspective character.


A Model for Exploring the Usefulness of Games for Classrooms

Stieler-Hunt Colleen Jones Christian M.
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Meaningful use of digital games can create a more potent schooling environment where students are engaged, focussed and motivated to learn. However, the potential impact of games in the classroom will not be realised until teachers learn to embrace the strengths of digital games. This paper presents the Game Uses Model for Classrooms (GUMC), a Model to help teachers explore the use of digital games in their unique classroom context. The GUMC was directly derived from experiences of educators in Queensland, Australia. It aims to make explicit the intuitive thought processes of teachers who use games effectively, and can be used as a planning tool for all teachers to help them to richly and elaborately intertwine games into their curricula. The GUMC can also be used by game designers to help them create games that have subtle but powerful classroom relevance.


Postdigital Play and the Aesthetics of Recruitment

Jayemanne Darshana Nansen Bjorn Apperley Thomas H.
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper analyses reconfigurations of play in newly emergent material and digital configurations of game design. It extends recent work examining dimensions of hybridity in playful products by turning attention to interfaces, practices and spaces, rather than devices. We argue that the concept of hybrid play relies on predefining clear and distinct entities that then enter into hybrid situations. Drawing on concepts of the ‘interface’ and ‘postdigital’, we argue the distribution of computing devices creates difficulties for such presuppositions. Instead, we propose an ‘aesthetic of recruitment’ that is adequate to the new openness of social and technical play.


EVE is Real

Carter Marcus Bergstrom Kelly Webber Nick Milik Oskar
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Used in a wide variety of contexts, a common colloquialism among EVE Online players is the phrase ‘EVE is real’. In this paper, we examine the various ways in which EVE is considered ‘real’ by its players, identifying a nuanced and powerful concept that goes significantly beyond real/virtual distinctions that have already been critiqued in game studies literature. We argue that, as a form of paratext, colloquialisms like this play an enormous role in shaping EVE Online’s informal rules (in particular towards treachery), constructing the identity of EVE Online players, communicating the seriousness of EVE Online play while in other cases, emphasizing the gameness of the MMOG.