Transforming Game Narrative through Social Media: Studying the Mass Effect Universe of Twitter

Ryan William Gilson Zach
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

This paper explores the world of social media as a tool for interactive narrative in video games. From the perspective of fan fiction, this paper looks at ways games can be transformed through Twitter as a narrative tool. We perform a textual analysis on selected characters’ Twitter accounts drawn from the Mass Effect series. We show a number of findings having to do with how authors balance their character’s identities, Twitter as a narrative tool despite its unique constraints, the mutability of narrative time in this medium, and the ways authors create and navigate impossible situations created because of the conflict between their authorial intent and what occurs in the games. We argue this participatory and interactive form of narrative is a factor game designers must acknowledge and understand as social media continues to evolve and the boundary between consumer and producer deteriorates.


Viewpoints AI: Procedurally Representing and Reasoning about Gestures

Jacob Mikhail Zook Alexander Magerko Brian
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Viewpoints is a contemporary theatrical composition technique for understanding the expressive powers of gesture used to formally describe a dance performance or theatrical movement (Bogart 2005). We describe a computational system that integrates a gesture-based interface (Kinect), theatrical aesthetics framework (Viewpoints), AI reasoning architecture (Soar), and visualized embodiment of the AI participant (Processing) to explore novel forms of meaningful co-creative theatrical interaction in an interactive installation piece. Providing this ability to reason about a gesture’s meaning enables game designers to explore novel ways for players to communicate with intelligent game agents. Toward this end, we describe our prototype for live interaction with a projected virtual agent in an interactive installation piece.


Stanislavky’s System as a Game Design Method: A Case Study

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

The relationship between theatre and games has been repeatedly discussed (Laurel 1993; Murray 1997; Frasca 2004; El-Nasr 2007;Fernández-Vara 2009), but its possibilities have not been explored in enough depth. This paper goes beyond a theoretical proposal, and describes how Stanislavski’s acting method (1959) served as the inspiration to design a game based on the Spanish classical theatre play, La Dama Boba (The Foolish Lady). The result was a point-and-click adventure game developed with the eAdventure platform, (Torrente, del Blanco, Marchiori, Moreno-Ger, Fernandez-Manjon 2010) a tool to create educational games. The paper provides an overview of the most and least successful aspects of this design method, and how it helped transform a narrative, dramatic in this case, into a digital game.


Online Diasporas: Theoretical Considerations on the Study of Diasporic Behavior in MMORPGs

Salazar Javier
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The concept of ‘online diaspora’ refers to the complex, dispersive and migratory behavior that some online communities may exhibit when moving from one virtual environment to another. This paper examines leading theoretical approaches to the notion of ‘diaspora’, and contrasts them with a set of cases of both ‘real life’ and ‘online diasporas’ taken from the author’s ethnographic experiences in MMORPGs as well as from published literature on the subject. The objective is to reach an understanding of the particularities of this type of diaspora in terms of their conceptualization. This, in turn, paves the way towards the formulation of a theoretical framework for the study of diasporic behavior in MMORPGs.


The Role of Micronarrative in the Design and Experience of Digital Games

Bizzocchi Jim Nixon Michael DiPaola Steve Funk Natalie
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Designing robust narrative experience in games is a complex and demanding task. The need to balance authorial control with player interactivity necessitates structurally flexible storytelling tools. One such tool is the micronarrative - an internal unit of narrative progression and coherence. This paper explicates relationships between the size, form, and experience of narrative units within electronic games. It identifies three design properties that enhance the utility and effectiveness of micronarratives within game experience: micronarratives are hierarchical, modular, and accumulative. The analysis is based on close readings of two commercial game titles, NHL 12 (Electronic Arts Canada 2012) and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal 2011).


Puzzle Is Not a Game! Basic Structures of Challenge

Karhulahti Veli-Matti
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

By analyzing ontological differences between two contested concepts, the puzzle and the game, the paper aims at constructing a structural framework for understanding the videogame and its challenges. The framework is built on three basic challenge structures: the puzzle, the strategic challenge, and the kinesthetic challenge. The argument is that, unlike the latter two, the puzzle cannot constitute a game.


Regulating Virtual Worlds: Considering Participant-Driven Approaches

Woodford Darryl
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

There are a number of pressing issues facing contemporary online environments that are causing disputes among participants and platform operators and increasing the likelihood of external regulation. A number of solutions have been proposed, including industry self-governance, top-down regulation and emergent self-governance such as EVE Online’s “Council of Stellar Management”. However, none of these solutions seem entirely satisfying; facing challenges from developers who fear regulators will not understand their platforms, or players who feel they are not sufficiently empowered to influence the platform, while many authors have raised concerns over the implementation of top-down regulation, and why the industry may be well-served to pre-empt such action. This paper considers case studies of EVE Online and the offshore gambling industry, and whether a version of self-governance may be suitable for the future of the industry.


Constructing the Ideal EVE Online Player

Bergstrom Kelly Carter Marcus Woodford Darryl Paul Christopher A.
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

EVE Online, released in 2003 by CCP Games, is a space-themed Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). This sandbox style MMOG has a reputation for being a difficult game with a punishing learning curve that is fairly impenetrable to new players. This has led to the widely held belief among the larger MMOG community that “EVE players are different”, as only a very particular type of player would be dedicated to learning how to play a game this challenging. Taking a critical approach to the claim that “EVE players are different”, this paper complicates the idea that only a certain type of player capable of playing the most hardcore of games will be attracted to this particular MMOG. Instead, we argue that EVE’s “exceptionalism” is actually the result of conscious design decisions on the part of CCP games, which in turn compel particular behaviours that are continually reinforced as the norm by the game’s relatively homogenous player community.


Everyone’s a Winner at Warhammer 40K (or, at least not a loser)

Harrop Mitchell Gibbs Martin Carter Marcus
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Warhammer 40,000 (W40K) is a non-digital strategy war-game involving the tactical manoeuvring of miniature figurines on a 6' by 4' tabletop. These figurines are painstakingly assembled, painted and often modified by players to accord with the game's backstory. Our research explores the ongoing success of W40K in the face of ubiquitous and pervasive computer technologies and presents the results of post-match interviews with players. One element of the W40K experience that we found striking was the capacity for players who lost matches to rationalise their failures into a narrative of success, one that underplays the importance of winning and prioritizes other aspects of the W40K experience. Drawing on Paul’s (2012) notion of rhetoric, wordplay and games, we argue that the modelling and painting, time and money constraints, engagement with W40K's themes and narratives, and the battle itself can be linked to the post-match accounts given by players in which they construct narratives of success and portray themselves as ‘winners’ even though they lost the battle.


Formalizing casual games: A study based on game designers’ professional knowledge

Chiapello Laureline
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

While the casual game market is expanding, there are increasingly few research projects and explorations about the definition of this game style. Existing definitions are contradictory and some areas, like casual game design practice, remain under-explored. Using game designers’ professional knowledge, this study aims to provide a new understanding and perspective towards definitions of casual games. Results contradict previous studies that have advocated for a radical shift in casual game design values. Outcomes indicate that certain traditional concepts like challenge are still valuable in understanding casual games. The discussion illustrates how different traditional concepts fit with the casual game trend and how some recent assertions about casual game definitions might be deceptive for game designers.