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Gaming the Gap: A Small World Simulation of Human Migration Response to Stressors

Stoll Jennifer Malave Ian Campbell Matt White Devin
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Significant societal disruptions are anticipated from mass human migration due to environmental factors, e.g., climate change. Understanding human behavioral responses to these disruptions are critical for informed policy decisions. However this is hindered by a significant data gap. Black et al. defines this gap as the difference between agency (the ability of migrants to self-report) and inference (from quantitative population data). While the general dynamics of human migration are known, the particulars remain elusive. To help address this gap, we have developed an online game called Island World, which is devised as a small world simulation. Our contribution is a design exploration of a game for the purpose of illuminating our understanding of human migration.


Ludic Zombies: An Examination of Zombieism in Games

Backe Hans-Joachim Aarseth Espen
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Zombies have become ubiquitous in recent years in all media, including digital games. Zombies have no soul or consciousness, and as completely alien, post-human Other, they seem like the perfect game opponent. Yet their portrayal is always politically charged, as they have historically been used as an allegory for slavery, poverty, and consumerism, and may be read as stand-ins for threatening but too human Others of unwanted class, ethnicity of political opinion. The paper explores the trope‟s iconography and how it is used in a number of paradigmatic games, from Plants vs. Zombies and Call of Duty to the Resident Evil series, Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3 (the Tenpenny Tower quests) and DayZ. Through theses comparative analyses, the paper demonstrates the range of usages of zombies in games, ranging from the facile use of a (seemingly) completely deindividuated humanoid for entertainment purposes to politically aware ludifications of the zombie‟s allegorical dimension.


The Social Dimension of Collective Storytelling in Skyrim

Puente Héctor Tosca Susana
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

This paper examines the social dimension of collective storytelling around a par-ticular ludic object. We study the action role-playing game Skyrim (2011) through a mixed methodology that integrates the humanities and the social sciences. Based on extensive analysis of player generated videos, we demonstrate that the social dimension plays an all-important role in the shaping of storytelling by the Skyrim fan community. Finally, we conceptualize this social dimension in terms of com-munities of practice.


The Game’s Afoot: Designing Sherlock Holmes

Fernández-Vara Clara
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

A videogame based on the Sherlock Holmes’ stories by Arthur Conan Doyle is an interesting design challenge, which commercial games have tackled only half-heartedly. This paper discusses this challenge by examining the game design strategies across pre-existing games, then proposes a new set of strategies that would help players become the dweller of 221B Baker Street. The design critique of the games focuses on the actions available to players to become a detective, and the aspects of the interactivity that invite the player to become Sherlock Holmes. The suggested design strategies to encourage detective work are based on prompts from the original stories, such as disguising oneself, doing chemical analyses, or turning the process of deduction into game mechanics.


Defragging the Magic Circle: From Experience Design to Reality Design

Rafinski Adam Zielke Markus
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

This paper presents the research results on Augmented Play conducted at the GameLab of the Institute for Postdigital Narratives at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (Germany) from 2010-2012. With digital media, a playful mindset increasingly pervades aspects of everyday life, thereby shaping our understanding of reality. This expanded definition of play is the foundation according to which we analyze, modify, and apply the implicit rules of diverse media formats on Pervasive Games for artistic purposes. Therefore, our interdisciplinary artistic research focuses strongly on the ontological shift from game design as experience design towards the playful construction of facts as artistic strategy, a methodology we call “Reality Design”. Reality Design follows avant-garde practices, intending to merge and reflect upon theoretical and practical dimensions of the subject at hand, allowing for a critical and highly creative approximation to the contemporary value of reality games.


Ethnographic Fieldwork in the Study of Game Production

Garner Gabrielle
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The purpose of this essay is to show the ways in which ethnographic methodology provided a useful means for investigating the work and activity of an emergent game production team and system. With neither expertise in game design nor software programming, the researcher gained access to the unit of analysis, the production of educational computer games, as a research and instructional design apprentice. The essay shares an experience of sociological inquiry in the context of a highly complex and private game production process.


Rules in Computer Games Compared to Rules in Traditional Games

DeLeon Chris
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Michael Liebe argues that Salen and Zimmerman's interpretation of Huizinga's magic circle does not apply to computer games. Liebe's insight reveals not only a different relation for computer games to the magic circle, but also hints at a difference in the nature of rules in computer games. Jesper Juul's comparison of non-digital sports to simulations of those sports highlights a missing aspect in understanding how rules in computer games are of a different nature than those of non-computer games: rules as flexibly defining real-time spatial interactions. Rules in computer games are more like laws of physics, rules in non-computer games are more like laws of society. Besides meta rules such as tournament arrangements, only a handful of "rules" - as the word is applied to non-computer games - exist for nearly all computer games. Moreover, such rules are largely the same: use standard input, and don't alter the game.


The Sightlence Game: Designing a Haptic Computer Game Interface

Nordvall Mathias
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The haptic modality is currently underutilized and poorly understood as a design material in game design. There are few computer games to draw on for inspiration during design explorations. This design case study explores how to use the haptic modality as a design material for computer game interfaces that requires neither graphics nor audio. The idea behind the case study is that a better understanding of haptic computer game interfaces can increase interface innovation and accessibility by giving game designers a third modality to work with together with graphics and audio. The design problem was approached through design explorations, development of an interface translation method, iterative game development of a haptic translation of Pong, and playtests with 34 people comprised of game design students and professors, adults with and without deafblindness, and children with deafblindness and congenital cognitive disabilities. The results show that computer games can be designed with haptic interfaces that only require standard gamepad¬s rather than expensive or custom-made hardware. This also holds for computer games with time-critical features and complex interfaces with concurrent haptic signals.


Defragmentation and Mashup: Ludic Mashup as a Design Approach

Lenhart Isaac
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The history of technological progress has involved a repeated application of abstraction, of encapsulation, specialization and composition. Film, for example, has moved from a specialized field of equipment and concepts only available to trained professionals, into a field which has been commoditized and composited, and made available to almost everyone with basic equipment. New media has become more modular and thus passes into the hands of users who rely less on crafting from scratch and rely more on pre-built, readymade components that can be assembled. This “pulling together”, i.e. this “mashup” or “remix” approach is already trivially true in the field of games in the modding community, which may introduce new 3D models, images, music or even new code blocks which change behaviors. These are very important, but signal a future move toward more sophisticated, pre-packaged modular blocks which players might assemble on their own in a more controlled manner. This might include swappable A.I. algorithms, interchangeable in-game weapons, interoperable “rulesets” and other key game entities that are normally thought of as being integral to a specific, single game. While mashup, assemblage and perhaps actor-network-theory has highlighted the ways in which a game played in context is more than the sum of its parts, this paper looks to the future of game design, in which players can assemble (on-the-fly) a set of game components. Such a situation is a defragmenting of ready-made ludic chunks, resulting in unpredictable and chaotic games created by players, and forces designers to consider their role less as a creator of a game in toto, but also as designers of interoperable ludic components.


An Account of Proceduralist Meaning

Treanor Mike Mateas Michael
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Within both game studies and development communities, it is often argued that a game’s processes (rules and goals) are of primary significance when considering a game’s meaning. In opposition to this position, some claim that this approach denies player subjectivity by ignoring the dynamic, culturally-embedded ways in which players create, rather than receive, meaning through play. This paper clarifies the proceduralist position by exploring a notion of the procedural that necessarily includes the individual player as part of a circuit in which a computational machine is able to operate meaningfully. From this point, procedural rhetoric is reframed in the language of semiotics to demonstrate that the proceduralist position respects player autonomy and expects meaning to result from the harmonious alignment between the authorial sign system and the many cultural sign systems within which the player is embedded.

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