Moving on from the Original Experience: Games history, preservation and presentation

Swalwell Melanie
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The art historical notion of ‘the original’ continues to inflect games history and game preservation work. This paper notes the persistence of this concept particularly in the game lover’s invocation of ‘the original experience’. The paper first traces the game lover’s notions of history and preservation, recognizing their commitment to games, before noting that the appeal to original experience is problematic for more critical historical and scholarly perspectives. It suggests that there is a need to liberate critical thought from this paradigm and ask different questions, such as how exhibitions of 1980s games and gaming culture might be assembled for future audiences with no memory of this period. The model proposed by net art preservationist, Anne Laforet, of the Archaeological Museum offers a way for thinking about such exhibits of game history and visitors’ encounters with these, whilst moving beyond the notion that games must play exactly as they once did.


“I commenced an examination of a game called ‘tit-tat-to’”: Charles Babbage and the “First” Computer Game

Monnens Devin
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

This paper examines Charles Babbage's tic-tac-toe automaton using original notes and sketches taken from Babbage's notebooks. While Babbage's work with games and computers has been mentioned previously by other authors, this is the first attempt to study that work in detail. The paper explains the origins of the automaton, imagines how it would have operated had it been built, describes how it might have functioned, and Babbage's inspirations for building it. The paper concludes with an analysis of Babbage's place in the history of videogames.


Embodied Interactive Characters using Social Robots

Si Mei Garber-Barron Michael
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Much research has been applied to developing interactive characters. However, most existing work is designed for digital characters. In this work, we explore the use of social robots to embody virtual characters. Robotic avatars have great potential over traditional displays for engaging the user, especially children. Primitive movements of the robots can be used to express emotions, illustrate locations, and even suggest the social relationships among the characters. We present a novel social robot for embodying conversational agents. This social robot combines a robotic lower body with a digital upper body. Thus, we can gain the mobility and presence of a robot without losing the expressive power of body movements and gestures that a virtual character can provide. We performed a preliminary evaluation on expressing emotions and intentions using such a robotic avatar. Our results indicate that the robotic avatar can intensify the expression of emotions over its equivalent digital form. We also observed the trend of subjects paying attention to different aspects of the character’s movements when the character was digital versus when it has a robotic body.


Experts and Novices or Expertise? Positioning Players through Gameplay Reviews

Kirschner David Williams J. Patrick
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

In this paper we attempt to unpack the meanings of “expert” and “novice” in games research. A literature review reveals unreliable definitions and inadequate operationalization of these concepts. Nonetheless, researchers default to recruiting experienced players for games research projects to the exclusion of novices. We take an interactionist approach to argue for reframing the expert/novice dichotomy in terms of expertise, which all players possess. To support this empirically, we explore how players’ interactions with video recordings of their gameplay exhibited their expertise with digital games. We report on the analysis of the gameplay of one research participant who played 20 hours of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft over a six-week period in 2012. By involving the participant in focused discussions on selected recorded segments of his gameplay, called a gameplay review, we leveraged his insight and interpretations of his own activity. The gameplay review method creates reflexive space, positions the player as an expert in his or her own understanding, and draws on player expertise as interpretive data.


Leveraging Play in Health-Based Games to Promote Sustained Behavior Change in Healthy Eating and Exercise

Durga Shree Seif El-Nasr Magy Shiyko Mariya Sceppa Carmen Naab Pamela Andres Lisa
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Games have increasingly become a prominent medium in the area of personal health and are uniquely positioned to empower and engage individuals in managing their own health. However, an important area of challenge in this, still nascent, field of study is the lack of empirical studies of games developed specifically to promote health and examining their effects on an individual’s motivation to change and on health-behavior outcomes. In this paper, we present key findings from an exploratory research study investigating players’ motivation and adoption of a health-based social media and game environment entitled — Spa Play™. We used a mixed methods approach leveraging game telemetry and interview methods to investigate acceptability of the game. Overall, our findings indicate that Spa Play™ was accepted by all players and had a potential to integrate into players’ lives and motivate a health behavior change.


Citizen Archivists at Play: Game Design for Gathering Metadata for Cultural Heritage Institutions

Flanagan Mary Punjasthitkul Sukdith Seidman Max Kaufman Geoff Carini Peter
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

In this paper, we detail our design process for the Metadata Games project and discuss a number of design challenges involved in making a “metadata game,” such as incentivizing players to offer accurate information, devising and deploying methods for verifying the accuracy of data, and introducing effective motivations for ensuring high replay potential. We present our “Outlier Design” model for creating effective crowdsourcing applications, and offer the Metadata Games prototype One-Up as an example. This game’s design addresses the challenges of gathering increasingly higher quality metadata while creating a compelling play experience.


An Introduction to EEG Analysis Techniques and Brain-Computer Interfaces for Games User Researchers

Wehbe Rina R. Nacke Lennart
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Games User Research (GUR) can provide meaningful insights into the study of games. As a part of GUR, we focus on the area of cognitive psychology and discuss electroencephalography (EEG) as an evaluation technique for games. We want to introduce game researchers to EEG when studying the cognitive side of player experience and discuss how it can benefit game studies. In this paper, we review EEG techniques before providing researchers with information about general EEG setup and methodology, EEG data collection, preparation, and analysis. Techniques reviewed have been used in medical applications, research, brain-computer interaction (BCI) and human-computer interaction (HCI) applications. In addition, future ideas for applications of EEG techniques in game studies are discussed. We outline how to use different EEG analysis techniques for game research and it is our hope to make these techniques more understandable for the game studies community and to demonstrate their merit for games user research.


(Re)Mark(s) of the Ninja: Replaying the Remnants

Côté Pierre-Marc
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The author makes an appraisal of the videogame Mark of the Ninja (Klei 2012) through the analysis of its construction of temporality. Appropriating the framework of litterature scholar Éric Méchoulan, time is described as the anachronistic folding of the past upon the present. The theme of time and memory in the game is paralleled with Méchoulan’s media-archeological approach to western metaphysics, insisting on the material processes and ethics of thought, mediation and transmission. As the game applies such treatment of the mythical past of the fictional world, it is also aesthetically molding the experience of gameplay through marks as objects for an archeology of gamespace. It leads to critical approaches to cultural legitimacy and violence that nonetheless leaves the pleasures of narrative and play intact. Finally, the author uses David Bohm’s concept of suspension, showing how the articulation of contemplation and gameplay performances makes time for critical play.


Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Values of Digital Objects in FarmVille2

Gruning Jane
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

This paper describes the findings of a textual and structural analysis of the free-to-play social networking game FarmVille 2 (FV2) with a focus on the values (social, economic, etc.) available to players for digital objects within the game. FV2 is purportedly a social game, which might suggest that findings regarding the social values of objects from the study of material culture could play out in the game, as they have been shown to do in other games. However, the author’s experience suggested that people who were not playing within an already existing network of friends might not show the kinds of digital virtual consumption patterns that previous research has found in social gaming. Instead, this paper suggests the possibility that a strong community may be necessary for the attribution of symbolic value to virtual goods, and that FV2 as played on alternate Facebook accounts may provide an example of a negative case for this basic tenet of the study of material culture.


eSport and the Human Body: foundations for a popular aesthetics

Ferrari Simon
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Notable philosophers of sport have rejected connections between videogames and sports throughout the past decade. This paper argues against an arbitrary identification of sporting activity with exhaustion and resistance. It reviews work in cognitive science and sociology that locates sporting potential in distributed cognition and team-based cooperation. Then it connects that work to an expanded discussion of the aesthetic issues raised by Henry Lowood's talk “Players Are Artists, too” at the Art History of Games Symposium. This introduction to the application of sports aesthetics to eSports revisits Lowood's major theoretical sources to expand upon the problems they raise for videogame performance. It argues that there are obstacles to the popular appreciation of eSporting aesthetics separate from the particular interests of archivists and expert spectators. And it suggests that different eSports present different sets of problems, producing multiple avenues for the advancement of aesthetic refinement in eSports broadcasts.