Failed Games: Lessons Learned from Promising but Problematic Game Prototypes in Designing for Diversity

Seidman Max Flanagan Mary Kaufman Geoff
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Iterative game design approaches have proven effective in creating persuasive games, but these approaches inevitably lead to as many abandoned designs as ones that are pursued to completion. This paper serves as a reflective and instructive post mortem for the unpublished non-digital game prototypes developed for our team’s “Transforming STEM for Women and Girls: Reworking Stereotypes & Bias” (BIAS) research project. We outline three abandoned designs and explain why they were ultimately not pursued, focusing on the challenges of balancing enjoyability, feasibility of production, and impact. We discuss design strategies, including: masking games’ persuasive intentions, prioritizing prototypes with their efficacy-to-cost ratio in mind, and designing for fun first. This discussion offers insights into the design of both non-digital and digital “games for impact” that allow designers and researchers alike to learn from these promising but problematic prototypes.


The role of gaming platforms in young males’ trajectories of technical expertise

Baxter-Webb Joe
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Studies of gender in videogame culture have often suggested that games provide a source of informal learning about technology, and that the perceived masculinity of the medium means that this benefit goes mainly to boys. The author's research interrogates and expands upon this “techno-socialization” theory of games. This paper presents a case-study based on interviews with male students (n = 18) studying ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in the UK, and illustrates the complexity of relationships between gaming and their interest (or indifference) toward computing careers.


Understanding Player Experience Through the Use of Similarity Matrix

Marczak Raphaël Schott Gareth Hanna Pierre
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Analytical accounts chronicling engagement with digital games can always benefit from empirical data outlining the patterns of behavior produced by different players as they engage with the same game, or similar sequence within a game. This paper presents an extension to the novel method previously introduced in Marczak et al. (2013; 2015) and Schott et al. (2014), termed feedback-based game metrics, which exploits the audio and visual output of an activated game to produce accounts of player performance. This paper offers an account of an affiliated method, based on similarity matrix, which is derived from the same measurement process and that has yet been applied to the interests of game studies (over design oriented research) to determine the similarity or diversity within encounters with particular games. This paper introduces the method and illustrates its potential applications in the analysis of performance.


Editors of Play: The Scripts and Practices of Co-creativity in Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet

Abend Pablo Beil Benjamin
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Computer games can be described as assemblages which, to use a term from Science and Technology Studies, provide different scripts that set the scene for user practices. These scripts include the game world’s possibilities and restrictions and the degree of freedom provided to the users by the overall gameplay. Lately, a new genre of games challenges these specifics. So-called editor games like Minecraft or LittleBigPlanet, which entered the market with sweeping success, are not games in the traditional sense in which players follow certain rules guided by narrative elements framing the gameplay. Instead, these sandbox games – often labeled as ‘digital LEGO’ or ‘co-creative open worlds’ – afford the construction of a game world rather than playing within one. Following a praxeological approach, this essay will try to make co-creative processes in editor games accessible as a research object, by performing a critical evaluation of established methods within Game Studies complemented by an experimental focus group analysis.


Defining the Global Ludo Polychotomy

James Bradley Fletcher B. D.
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper explores the established East-West Dichotomy and attempts to explain its role in the games industry while examining if it can even be accurately applied to it. In an attempt to find out, a games design model (B. James et al, 2013) was used to quickly and efficiently break down a variety of popular and/or relevant video game titles from recent years in order to better understand their design and targeting systems. These games were then compared and analysed in order to determine their exact place in the market as well as their place in the Global Ludo Polychotomy, freeing the industry from a dichotomy based perception. These comparisons have indicated that the original east-west dichotomy theory (S. Meštrovic, 1994), while appropriate for the initial subject matter, may not be entirely suitable for defining the global state of games, their design and their marketing. These differences are quite noticeable and, as such, warrant further investigation.


Hackers and Cyborgs: Binary Domain and Two Formative Videogame Technicities

Keogh Brendan
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Through the course of Binary Domain’s action-packed narrative, it becomes increasingly unclear who is human, who is machine, and who is somewhere in between. Ultimately, such a distinction is futile when our everyday experiences are so ubiquitously augmented by technologies—even the act of playing Binary Domain by coupling with a virtual character through a videogame controller challenges any clear distinction between human and machine. While such themes are not new to science fiction, the anxieties expressed by Binary Domain’s characters are relevant to what have emerged over the past twentyfive years as two formative modes of identifying with videogames: the dominant hacker and the integrated cyborg. The hacker, an identity that the dominant and hegemonic ‘gamer’ consumer identity can trace a clear lineage from, comes to represent the masculinist, mastery-focused identity that most blockbuster games celebrate.The cyborg emerges in resistance to the hacker, pointing to a diversity of forms and identities focused less on mastering the machine than participating with it. This paper uses Binary Domain’s complex anxieties towards technology as a lens through which to trace the histories of these constitutive modes of identifying with videogames, and to demonstrate the influence they have on shaping videogame forms and audiences.


Early Computer Game Genre Preferences (1980-1984)

Lessard Jonathan
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

This paper addresses the lack of solid historical information concerning early computer game sales and preferences. Two consistent data series from the magazines Softalk and Computer Gaming World (CGW) are analyzed to give an overview of the best selling and best rated games by players for the period of 1980-1984. A “genre palette” is inferred from the sources, giving a snapshot of how contemporaries framed and interpreted the offer in computer games. A comparison of the series reveals the CGW readership constitutes a distinct “hardcore” play community amongst general computer game players. It is also observed that genre preferences vary in time: arcade games peak in 1982 and then recede in favor of computer-native genres. A brief comparison with Atari 2600 best sellers reveal the inadequacy of the computer game genre palette to describe home console games. The historical and constructed nature of genres as “horizons of expectations” is discussed.


The Limits of the Evolution of Female Characters in the Bioshock Franchise

Toh Weimin
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

In this article, a multimodal framework is proposed to track the character development of female characters in the Bioshock franchise. The language part of the framework focuses on appraisal analysis. The appraisal framework is applied to understand the player’s interpretation of the linguistic resources found in the characters’ utterances. The non-linguistic part of the framework utilizes Kress and van Leeuwen’s framework of visual analysis with Lim’s system of gesture. The integrated framework is applied to compare the different multimodal representations of the female characters in the narrative and gameplay. Through the analysis, I show there is some advancement in the depiction of female characters in the Bioshock franchise in terms of their increased independence. However, the female characters’ representation is still limited by the male player (character’s) perspective. A detailed account of the role of female characters over the Bioshock series of games is provided in this article.