Making the Familiar Unfamiliar: Techniques for Creating Poetic Gameplay

Mitchell Alex
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Just as writers use specific literary devices to deliberately draw attention to a poem's form, in this paper I propose that game designers can make use of the structure of gameplay to draw attention to a game's formal qualities for "poetic" effect. Starting from Shklovsky's notion of defamiliarization and Utterback's concept of the poetic interface, I draw parallels between poetic language and the techniques used in games to create what I refer to as poetic gameplay. Through a close reading of Thirty Flights of Loving, I identify three possible techniques for creating poetic gameplay: undermining the player's expectations for control, disrupting the chronological flow of time, and blurring the boundaries of the form. To demonstrate the potential use of these techniques for analysis, I discuss how these techniques appear in a range of games, suggesting that these techniques can serve as the basis for a more general set of techniques for creating poetic gameplay.


Enacting aporia: Roger Caillois’ game typology as formalist methodology

Ottens Michel
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This game analysis experimentally transposes Louis Hjelmslev's linguistic methodology, for logically deducing semiotic schema from a given text, to the analysis of games. Roger Caillois' fourfold model of game type rubrics is therefore reconceptualized, as a logically coherent analytic framework, from which an analysis might proceed indefinitely. Such analysis was practiced on a Dutch translation of the board game Lord of the Rings, to observe how this game manifests Caillois' rubrics of agôn (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (role-playing), and ilinx (disruptive play). Game studies methods akin to Hjelmslev's work already exist, and Caillois' efforts are often reconceptualized. However, this present work finds valuable avenues of inquiry in synthesizing these two thinkers. In extending Hjelmslev's work, stratified images of interlinked categories and components now appear at play in games. By reconceptualizing Caillois' efforts, those two axes, along which his four rubrics seem divided, now point to valuable lines of future inquiry.


The Diversity of Attitudes towards Play at the Workplace – A Case of an Academic Community

Nummenmaa Timo Kankainen Ville Savolainen Sampo Kultima Annakaisa Karvinen Juho Alha Kati Syvänen Antti Tyni Heikki
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

In this article, the results from an experiment of playful videos are presented. In the experiment, leaders of an academic community participated in workshops where they playfully envisioned the future of the workplace. These workshops were videotaped and edited into short videos, which were made public within the community and used as a probe for exposing attitudes towards play within an academic environment. The study revealed diverse views towards play and its role at the workplace.


First-Person Walkers: Understanding the Walker Experience through Four Design Themes

Muscat Alexander Goddard William Duckworth Jonathan Holopainen Jussi
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

The First-Person Walker genre is defined by minimal player interactions, a deliberate slow pacing of the game play, and ambiguous goals. These distinct characteristics of First- Person Walkers challenge how we may consider a digital game. As such, there is a gap in understanding the design attributes that contribute to the unique game experiences afforded by ‘Walkers’. We conduct a player experience study of four Walker games, Gone Home, Dear Esther, Proteus, and The Stanley Parable. From our analysis we discuss four distinct design themes specific to the Walker game experience: 1) player interaction, 2) temporal space, 3) player focus, and 4) ambiguity. We consider how each of these themes can be used to enhance the design of First-Person Walker player experiences.


Three Shadowed Dimensions of Feminine Presence in Video Games

Cosima Rughiniș Răzvan Rughiniș Toma Elisabeta
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Representations of femininity in video games and other media are often discussed with reference to the most popular games, their protagonists and their sexist predicament. This framing leaves in shadow other dimensions. We aim to identify some of them and to open a broader horizon for examining and designing femininity and gender in games. To this end we look into games with creative portrayals of feminine characters, diverging from the action-woman trope: The Walking Dead, The Path, and 80 Days. We talk in dialogue with scholars, but also with a digital crowd-critique movement for films and games, loosely centered on instruments such as the Bechdel-Wallace test and the TV wiki. We argue that the central analytical dimension of female character strength should be accompanied by three new axes, in order to examine feminine presence across ages, in the background fictive world created by the game, and in network edges of interaction.


Grouches, Extraverts, and Jellyfish: Assessment Validity and Game Mechanics in a Gamified Assessment

Levy Laura Solomon Rob Johnson Jeremy Wilson Jeff Lambeth Amy Gandy Maribeth Joann Moore Way Jason Liu Ruitao
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Research into the use of both commercial and custom video games to assess individual differences, like personality, of players has revealed promising results. Virtual environments can allow researchers to analyze a variety of player behaviors and actions that correlate strongly with inherent personality traits. What is less understood is how an assessment game’s mechanics might affect a player’s inputs that determine the assessment’s validity. In this study, we developed a custom game and logging framework for an online study assessing the reliability and validity of transferring a traditional personality questionnaire into a game environment. The game was played by 212 college-aged participants in one of three conditions. The conditions represented different levels of game mechanics; including enemies and point earning. Using results from a traditional personality assessment as our ground truth, we compared player responses and play behavior in the game. We found that responses between the traditional assessment and game-based assessment in all conditions were consistent, indicating that the game mechanics did not interfere or alter significantly a player’s ability or decision to make personality-based responses. Additionally, we found several gameplay behaviors that can be used as predictors of individual differences.


A Statistical Analysis of Player Improvement and Single-Player High Scores

Isaksen Aaron Nealen Andy
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

We present the analytical and empirical probabilities of a player achieving a single-player high score after playing a series of games. Using analytical probabilities, simulated game data, and actual game analytics data from two popular mobile games, we show that the probability of reaching a high score decrease rapidly the more one plays, even when players are learning and improving. We analyze the probability of beating the previous k scores, placing on a Top m Leaderboard, completing a streak of k consecutively increasing scores, beating the mean score, and introduce a metric called “decaying high score” that is parameterized and easier for players to achieve. We show that players exhibit different types of learning behavior, which can be modeled with linear or power-law functions – but that in many conditions skill improvement happens too slowly to affect the probability of beating one’s high score.


Design Lessons From Binary Fission: A Crowd Sourced Game for Precondition Discovery

Compton Kate Logas Heather Osborn Joseph C. Chakrabortti Chandranil Coffman Kelsey Fava Daniel Lederle-Ensign Dylan Lin Zhongpeng Mazeika Jo Mobramaein Afshin Pagnutti Johnathan Sanchez Husacar Whitehead Jim Laurel Brenda
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper introduces the formal software verification game, Binary Fission. After outlining the problem space of formal software verification games, we give a brief overview of Binary Fission. We then go into detail about several important design goals we had in mind, such as affording rapid decision making, based on other software verification games and our own past experience. We detail how Binary Fission achieves these design goals, and then talk about several design lessons we learned. We discuss lessons learned, both in the parts of the game that performed well, and in the parts that did not quite work as intended.


Rapidly-Exploring Random Tree approach for Geometry Friends

Soares Rui Leal Francisco Prada Rui Melo Francisco
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Geometry Friends (GF) is a physics-based platform game, where players control one of two characters (a circle and a rectangle) through a series of both individual and cooperative levels. Each level is solved by retrieving a set of collectibles. This paper proposes an approach using Rapidly-exploring Random Trees (RRTs) to find a solution for the individual levels of Geometry Friends. Solving a level of GF is divided into two subtasks: (1) planning the level; and (2) executing in real time the sequence of moves required to fulfill the plan. We use our RRT approach to solve (1) and a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) controller to guide (2). The quality of the agent implemented was measured in the 2015 GF Game AI Competition. Results show that our agents are able to plan both public and private levels and are able to control their motion in order to finish most of them.


Using Interactive Social Story Games to Teach Social Skills to Children with Autism

Zhu Jichen Kerns Connor M. Connell James Lyon Natalie
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper presents interactive social stories (ISS) for teaching social skills to children on the autism spectrum. Using interactive narrative techniques, we enhance the traditional intervention of Social Stories in order to facilitate exploration and potentially promote stimulus generalization. Using this approach, we designed a tablet-based ISS game called FriendStar to teach 9-13 year old children with autism the social skills of greeting in the school context. The results of our user study show that both health professionals and children with their caregivers reacted positively to FriendStar. Most notably, both groups respond favorably to the ability of making mistakes and correcting them in the game.