Review of Social Features in Social Network Games

Paavilainen Janne Alha Kati Korhonen Hannu
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Although social network games on Facebook have become popular, their actual sociability has been questioned. In this paper we review the social features of 16 social games and as a result present a list of 30 social features in three categories: presence, communication, and interaction. A common set of features which were found from all examined games are mainly focused on presence and communication aspects, while neglecting player interaction. In addition, social features are primarily used for acquisition and retention purposes, rather than monetization. These findings are useful for the study and design of social features in social games and in other games with social network integration.


Player Rating Systems for Balancing Human Computation Games: Testing the Effect of Bipartiteness

Cooper Seth Deterding Sebastian Tsapakos Theo
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Human Computation Games (HCGs) aim to engage volunteers to solve information tasks, yet suffer from low sustained engagement themselves. One potential reason for this is limited difficulty balance, as tasks difficulty is unknown and they cannot be freely changed. In this paper, we introduce the use of player rating systems for selecting and sequencing tasks as an approach to difficulty balancing in HCGs and game genres facing similar challenges. We identify the bipartite structure of user-task graphs as a potential issue of our approach: users never directly match users, tasks never match tasks. We therefore test how well common rating systems predict outcomes in bipartite versus non-bipartite chess data sets and log data of the HCG Paradox. Results indicate that bipartiteness does not negatively impact prediction accuracy: common rating systems outperform baseline predictions in HCG data, supporting our approach’s viability. We outline limitations of our approach and future work.


Critically Approaching the Playful and Participatory Genealogy of MOBAs

Jarrett Josh
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper gives close attention to the term ‘Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’ (MOBA), establishing what it implies in popular discourses as a term with specific generic connotations and more critically, what its short but eventful history represents alongside wider participatory trends across the Internet. Despite its far reaching influence and now commonplace usage, MOBA is not a neutral term and it signals a precise transitional moment towards a new normalisation of playful, cultural and economic control for the genre. Through adapting Foucault’s term of the ‘dispositif’ and applying a genealogical approach towards mapping the transition from the mod of Defense of the Ancients (DotA) to the genre of MOBA, this paper argues that MOBAs continue to be laced in significant bottom-up movements and characteristics. It is these lingering characteristics of playful and participatory residue that many of the genres most notable game design and paratextual aspects can be found. However, it is also here that critical questions surrounding the platformed state of these relations also make themselves evident.


Two Worlds, One Gameplay: A Classification of Visual AR Games

Knauer Marina Mütterlein Joschka
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

At the end of the last century, augmented reality (AR), i.e. the enrichment of our perception with digital information, was said to be the new striking technology. Yet, games are still one of the fewest considered application areas although researchers have frequently emphasized that the technology is destined for games (eg. Feiner et al. 1997, van Krevelen and Poelman 2010). Previous works on AR games form an inconsistent field of study. In order to advance research in this fragmented field and to offer a reference point for further research and practical applications, we develop a classification of AR games using three sources: an extensive literature review, a Delphi survey (Linstone and Turoff 1975), and the usage of AR in selected fictional works. The result classifies AR games according to four criteria: the used device, the tracking technology, the setting of both the device and the player, i.e. where and how the game is played, and the orientation alongside the left section of the reality-virtuality-continuum (Milgram et al. 1994) in relation to the goal of the game.


Spectrum: Exploring the Effects of Player Experience on Game Design

Portelli Jean-Luc Khaled Rilla
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Player Experience (PX) concerns how players think and feel when interacting with a game. Although it is intrinsic to all games, few design tools exist that enable designers to approach PX in a directed, intentional manner. Drawing on existing design tools and experience-related theory focused on emotions, we present our tool Spectrum. Spectrum facilitates a PX-directed approach to game design that foregrounds intended player experience. Spectrum can also be used to critically probe people’s conceptions of game experiences. In evaluations of Spectrum with designers, while all were committed to the notion of PX, not everyone was able to translate from emotions into playable scenarios, particularly when those emotions were either visceral in nature or unusual within existing games. In evaluations with players, participants sometimes struggled to fit emotionally-specific language around their game experiences, but also stated that such reflections added post-hoc value to their experiences.


Developing Ideation Cards for Mixed Reality Game Design

Wetzel RIchard Rodden Tom Benford Steve
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Mixed reality games (MRGs) pose new challenges but also opportunities to designers. In order to make the design space of MRGs easily accessible and enable collaborative design in a playful manner we have developed Mixed Reality Game Cards. These ideation cards synthesize design knowledge about MRGs and are inspired by a variety of other successful ideation cards. We describe six studies, illustrate the iterative development of our cards, and reflect how the structure of our cards might influence future ideation cards.


Playful Fandom: Gaming, Media and the Ludic Dimensions of Textual Poaching

Mavridou Orion
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

This paper discusses the idea that fandom, as the collection of activities and behaviours relating to the fan identity, has a ludic dimension, and that said dimension merits individual inquiry from a game studies perspective. Furthermore, it is argued that there is mutual benefit in exploring the intersection between fan studies and game studies, which has so far been overlooked in research design and direction.


Digital Detritus: What Can We Learn From Abandoned Massively Multiplayer Online Game Avatars?

Bergstrom Kelly de Castell Suzanne Jenson Jennifer
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) player data has been used to investigate a variety of questions, ranging from the sociality of small groups, to patterns of economic decision making modeled across entire game servers. To date, MMOG player research has primarily drawn on data (e.g. server-side logs, observational data) collected while players (and their avatars) were actively participating in the gameworld under investigation. MMOGs are persistent worlds where avatars are held in stasis when the player logs out of the game, and this is a feature that allows players to return after an extended absence to “pick up where they left off”. In this paper we explore the sorts of information that can be gleaned by examining avatars after their creators have played them for the last time. Our preliminary findings are that “abandoned” avatars still contain a wealth of information about the people who created them, opening up new possibilities for the study of players and decision making in MMOGs.


G-Player: Exploratory Visual Analytics for Accessible Knowledge Discovery

Canossa Alessandro Nguyen Truong-Huy D. Seif El-Nasr Magy
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Understanding player behavior and making sense of gameplay actions is a non-trivial and time-consuming process that requires both thorough domain knowledge of game design, and advanced technical skills in database query languages and statistical packages. Researchers, technology partners and content creators are developing tools to aid in the process of knowledge discovery to gain insights and understanding player behavior. This is important for game production, as it is crucial for formative evaluation of game designs, but is also important for research applications to understand human behavior. In this paper we present G-Player, a tool that aims at democratizing advanced intelligence and knowledge discovery from players’ behavior. G-Player leverages spatial visualizations, such as heat maps and event/movement plotting, to answer complex queries on spatio-temporal data. It allows quick turn-around time between data analysis, hypothesis forming and verification on multimodal datasets, and lets users gain levels of insight beyond simple descriptive statistics. As a first step, we evaluated our tool for production, through domain experts, who were asked to compare it to their current tools. Through this comparison, we enumerate advantages and disadvantages of G-Player’s design as a tool to expand our understanding of player behaviors through space and time analysis.


Integrating Curiosity and Uncertainty in Game Design

To Alexandra Ali Safinah Kaufman Geoff Hammer Jessica
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

Curiosity as a psychological state or trait is characterized by a preference for uncertainty that motivates responses such as exploring, manipulating, and questioning. Given the established link between curiosity and player engagement levels, game designers can thus induce curiosity by creating or increasing the salience of information gaps. To this end, a thorough understanding of curiosity - its varieties, antecedents, and consequences - is an essential addition to the designer’s toolbox. This paper reviews five key types of curiosity: perceptual curiosity, manipulatory curiosity, curiosity about the complex or ambiguous, conceptual curiosity, and adjustive-reactive curiosity. It further examines a variety of game examples to show how each form can manifest during play. In addition, the present analysis ties established understandings of curiosity to Costikyan’s well-known theory of uncertainty in games, proposing that designers can employ uncertainty to motivate, manipulate, and accommodate players’ curiosity levels.