Critical Alternative Journalism from the Perspective of Game Journalists

Prax Patrick Soler Alejandro
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper investigates from a game studies perspective the potential of alternative online game journalism for a more critical and honest coverage than established game journalism. Following the notion that journalism is defined by journalists through their practical work and discourse (Zelizer, 1993:222) the authors conducted 11 in-depth focused semi-structured interviews (Minichiello et al., 1995) with alternative game journalists and established game journalists. The results show that the social media logic of Youtube forces alternative journalists to adopt entertaining personas which undermines their authenticity unless they can afford to work for free. Alternative game journalists do not understand themselves as journalists but instead see themselves as critics or reviewers. They see established print-media game journalists as journalists. Neither do interviewees from established game journals. This means that nobody understands themselves as game journalists and takes the role of the watchdog in a democratic society (Wahl-Jorgensen and Hanitzsch, 2009:8).


Four Lenses for Designing Morally Engaging Games

Ryan Malcolm Staines Dan Formosa Paul
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Historically the focus of moral decision-making in games has been narrow, mostly confined to challenges of moral judgement (deciding right and wrong). In this paper, we look to moral psychology to get a broader view of the skills involved in ethical behaviour and how they may be employed in games. Following the Four Component Model of Rest and colleagues, we identify four “lenses” – perspectives for considering moral gameplay in terms of focus, sensitivity, judgement and action – and describe the design problems raised by each. To conclude, we analyse two recent games, The Walking Dead and Papers, Please, and show how the lenses give us insight into important design differences between them.


Interactive Biotechnology: Design Rules for Integrating Biological Matter into Digital Games

Gerber Lukas C. Kim Honesty Riedel-Kruse Ingmar H.
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

In recent years, playful interactions with biological materials, including live organisms, have been increasingly explored and implemented. Such biotic games are motivated and enabled by biotechnological advances and their increasing presence in everyday life constitute a form of human-biology interactions (HBI). Here we systematically discuss the design space for “digital-biology hybrid” games, summarize current best-practice design rules based on recent works, and point to technologies that will enable others to design and utilize similar games to advance this field. In particular, we show how augmentation with overlaid digital objects provides a rich design space, we emphasize the advantages when working with microorganisms and light based stimuli, and we suggest using biotic processing units (BPUs) as the fundamental hardware architecture. In analogy to the history of digital games, we make some predictions on the future evolution of biotic games as the underlying core technologies become readily accessible to practitioners and consumers. We envision that broadening the development of playful interactive biotechnology will benefit game culture, education, citizen science, and arts.


Behaviour Change Wheel Driven Normative Feedback in a Serious Game for Energy Conservation

Wells Lindsay de Salas Kristy Lewis Ian
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Existing energy conservation interventions provide feedback in the form of graphs and numbers. There is a need for more persuasive and theoretically informed interventions in order to bring about a greater conservation effect. Using the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) systematic method of intervention design, we designed a mobile phone game which uses normative feedback as a behaviour change technique to promote energy conservation. This paper describes an application of the BCW method to the energy domain and presents the design of Energy Explorer—a serious game with the purpose of promoting positive energy conservation behaviours in the home—that incorporates meaningful reference groups, average player community score, and normative leaderboards.


Combining Speech Intervention and Cooperative Game Design for Children with ASD

Lyon Natalie Leitman David I. Zhu Jichen
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

The design of the digital game Feeling Factory explores how to combine systematic Autism intervention structures with play-centric game design in the area of prosodic speech therapy. The goal of the game is to improve emotional and grammatical, productive and receptive prosody in high-functioning children with ASD. Feeling Factory uses a two-player cooperative game that allows children with ASD to practice prosody with another person mediated by a game. This structure motivates practice of speech skills within the context of a live conversation partner, a key challenge for Autism intervention, and combines interventionist exercise with digitally mediated gameplay. A user study was conducted consisting of semi-structured interviews with a panel of seven experts and five children with ASD to help determine the potential benefits of this design model. The study resulted in a high recommendation from both groups, especially regarding the two-player cooperative game mechanics.


Discovering Social and Aesthetic Categories of Avatars: A Bottom-Up Artificial Intelligence Approach Using Image Clustering

Lim Chong-U Liapis Antonios Harrell Fox D.
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Videogame avatars are more than visual artifacts—they express cultural norms and expectations from both the real world and the fictional world. In this paper, we describe how artificial intelligence clustering can automatically discover distinct characteristics of players’ avatars without prior knowledge of a system’s underlying data structures. Using only avatar images collected from a study with 191 players, we applied two clustering techniques— namely non-negative matrix factorization and archetypal analysis—that automatically revealed and detected (1) an avatar’s gender, (2) regions that appeared to isolate shapes of items and accessories, and (3) aesthetic preferences for particular colors (e.g., bright or muted) and shapes for different body parts. These clusters correlated with players’ preferences for character abilities, e.g., male avatars in dark clothes correlated with having high physical but low magic-casting attributes. These findings show that a bottom-up analysis of images can reveal explicit categories like gender, but also implicit categories like preferences of players. We believe that such computational approaches can enable developers to (1) better understand players’ desires and needs, (2) quantitatively view how systems may be limited in supporting players, and (3) find actionable solutions for these limitations.


GameNet and GameSage: Videogame Discovery as Design Insight

Ryan James Kaltman Eric Hong Timothy Isbister Katherine Mateas Michael Wardrip-Fruin Noah
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

The immense proliferation of videogames over the course of recent decades has yielded a discoverability problem that has largely been unaddressed. Though this problem affects all videogame stakeholders, we limit our concerns herein to the particular context of game designers seeking prior work that could inform their own ideas or works in progress. Specifically, we present a tool suite that solicits text about a user’s idea for a game to generate an explorable listing of the existing games most related to that abstract idea. From a study in which 182 game-design students used these tools to find games related to their own, we observe a demonstrated utility exceeding that of the current state of the art, which is the coordinated usage of assorted web resources. More broadly, this paper provides the first articulation of videogame discovery as an emerging application area.


Designing a Serious Game for General Practice Management

Strien Jan Batenburg Ronald Dalpiaz Fabiano
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

General practitioners (GPs) have to professionally manage their practice. Studies on the quality of GP educational programs revealed that the majority of GP students are dissatisfied with what they learn about running an own general practice. They learn mostly theory from textbooks as opposed to hands-on experience. The new-generation GPs are raised digitally and need more modern learning methods. In this paper, we study the use of serious games to bridge this educational gap. First, we present the RIDEVA serious game design framework that expands existing literature and stresses the importance of mapping intended learning outcomes into formal and dramatic game elements. Second, we develop a prototype game for general practice management in the Dutch context to demonstrate and evaluate our design framework. The results obtained indicate that our serious game design has potential to bridge the educational gap, but also show room for improvement.


The Emancipated Player

Farca Gerald
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Elevating video games to the same aesthetic level as other forms of representational art, this paper explores humankind’s inherent drive towards aesthetic beauty and the creation of meaning. To analyse this specific type of player, slumbering in all of us, I propose the emancipated player. The emancipated player represents an open-minded and critical player type who willingly engages in the act of play and who primarily wants to experience play’s aesthetic effect. As a refinement of player involvement in video games, the emancipated player’s experience in the gameworld can be regarded as a specific phenomenology of play and becomes particularly fruitful for the analysis of virtualized storyworlds or video game narratives.


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.