The Conceptual Relationship Model: Understanding Patterns and Mechanics in Game Design

Olsson Carl Magnus Björk Staffan Dahlskog Steve
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Rooted in the complexity of purposeful design, this paper embraces a phenomenological perspective of design as both a process and artifact. We use this perspective to interpret why the conceptualization and realization of design intentions can be difficult to achieve and why design is often perceived as a so called ‘wicked problem’. This paper revisits the concepts of game design patterns and game mechanics, arguing that refactoring these concepts is needed to clarify their relationships and motivations. We outline the separation of concerns between them and suggest that an additional contextualizing layer should be added to the discourse. Using this, we define and reflect upon what we refer to as the conceptual relationship model.


Designing Inside the Box or Pitching Practices in Industry and Education

Altizer Roger Zagal José P.
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Pitching, the act of trying to convince others to support the development of a project, has a long, storied tradition in the game industry. This practice has also been adopted by game educators and incorporated into their curricula. In project-oriented classes it is common for students to pitch games to classmates, industry panels, and faculty. Using a series of vignettes, informed by anonymous industry professionals, we explore the mores and myths of pitching. These vignettes reflect a variety of pitching practices in companies both large and small. We also present a pedagogical tool, the Design Box, discuss our experiences using it, including common critiques, and illustrate its use for creative ideation as well as persuasive potential. The Design Box is a method we present for adoption, critique and evaluation. We conclude with a call to explore more practices that find their referent in ‘the industry’ and the development of appropriate pedagogical techniques we can incorporate in game education programs.


Pressure at Play: Measuring Player Approach and Avoidance Behaviour through the Keyboard

van den Hoogen Wouter Braad Eelco Ijsselsteijn Wijnand
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

With the increased adoption of real-time objective measurements of player experience, advances have been made in characterising the dynamically changing aspects of the player experience during gameplay itself. A direct coupling to player action, however, is not without challenges. Many physiological responses, for instance, have an inherent delay, and often take some time to return to a baseline, providing challenges of interpretation when analysing rapidly changing gameplay on a micro level of interaction. The development of event-related, or phasic, measurements directly coupled to player actions provides additional insights, for instance through player modelling, but also through the use of behavioural characteristics of the human computer interaction itself. In this study, we focused on the latter, and measured keyboard pressure in a number of different, fast-paced action games. In this particular case, we related specific functional game actions (keyboard presses) to experiential player behaviour. We found keyboard pressure to be higher for avoidance as compared to approach-oriented actions. Additionally, the difference between avoidance and approach keyboard pressure related to levels of arousal. The findings illustrate the application potential of qualifying players’ functional actions at play (navigating in a game) and interpret player experience related to these actions through players’ real world behavioural characteristics like interface pressure.


What makes young children active game players; ethnographic case study

Huh Youn Jung
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Young children’s digital game play tends to be discouraged and policed, and controlled by adults, who nevertheless give their young children mobile phones and hand held game devices to keep them occupied. The purpose of this study is to uncover the tactics used by three-year-old children as digital game players and the strategies used by their parents to put limits on this play. The method is an ethnographic case study of six families having a three-year-old child playing digital games on a daily basis. This study shows that three-year-old children are active, avid digital gamers, and also adept at employing a range of tactics to gain access to opportunities to play.


Analysing the history of game controversies

Karlsen Faltin
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

The aim of this paper is to discuss some of the controversies that have surrounded digital games. Within media studies, such controversies are often referred to as moral panics or media panics. They are understood as cyclical events that arise when new media or media phenomena are introduced into society. The paper’s point of departure is the controversy that erupted after the launch of Death Race in 1976, which initiated the first worldspanning debate concerning digital games and violence. Similar debates followed the launch of games like Doom and Mortal Kombat. More recent controversies about game violence have erupted specifically in the wake of school shootings. My analysis shows that, while these debates certainly share similarities, they also undergo important transformations over time. Via a historical perspective, I will demonstrate the importance of these changes to our understanding of the status of digital games in society.


Out of Context – Understanding the Practicalities of Learning Games

Marklund Björn
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

The aim of this paper is to highlight the lack of studies examining the contexts in which learning games are used. Learning game research tends to focus heavily on the game artefact by examining how different types of designs foster both engagement and learning and how well the axiomatic definitions of good game design correspond to sound learning principles. While the dissection of the anatomy of games is important, there is an overabundance of studies on learning games as isolated systems at the expense of examinations of the constraints, possibilities, and requirements imposed by their real-world context of use. Learning games that are intended to work in formal settings like K-12 classrooms constitute systems that significantly differ from the traditional game scenarios between game artefacts and their players. As of yet few researchers have set out to survey these systems in their entirety. This paper presents a small literature review of learning game research that highlight the absence of studies focused on understanding the practicalities of the development and use of learning games. The paper also juxtaposes the results of the review with outcomes of a study conducted “within” the identified gap to present arguments for why the current lack of practical research is problematic.


Testing the Power of Game Lessons: The Effects of Art and Narrative on Reducing Cognitive Biases

Martey Rosa Shaw Adrienne Stromer-Galley Jennifer Kenski Kate Clegg Benjamin Folkestad James Saulnier Emilie Strzalkowski Tomek
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Educational games have proliferated, but questions remain about the effectiveness at teaching both in the short- and long-term. Also unclear is whether particular game features have positive effects on learning. To examine these issues, this paper describes a controlled experiment using an educational game that was professionally developed to teach about cognitive biases in decision making (Fundamental Attribution Error, Confirmation Bias, and Bias Blind Spot). This experiment examined the effects of game art and narrative on learning and compared the game conditions to a training video. Effects were measured immediately after the stimuli were given and then again eight weeks later. Results indicate that the educational game outperforms the training video immediately after exposure and that there are significant retention effects. Art and narrative were not significantly related to learning with the exception that minimal art game had a significant positive relationship with mitigating Bias Blind Spot at immediate post-test.


Dots, Fruit, Speed and Pills: The Happy Consciousness of Pac-Man

Wade Alex
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Spanning 30 years and 40 individual videogames across a range of platforms, Pac-Man is one of the most recognizable of all videogame characters and a pop–culture icon. In spite of its widespread popularity, the game receives little sustained academic engagement or analysis. In an attempt to address this, the paper argues that in its classic iterations Pac-Man generates complex notions of space and time which are indicative of changing cultural, ethical and political considerations in wider society. This is explored through recourse to Borges’ work on labyrinths, Bauman’s discussion of the ethical position of videogames, Poole’s rejoinder and Ritzer’s critique of consumerism, ultimately arguing that the dynamics, themes and leitmotifs evident in Pac-Man are experienced by gamers, consumers and citizens described in Marcuse’s One Dimensional Society, whereby the welfare and warfare state coalesce to generate the Happy Consciousness.


Presence and Heuristic Cues: Cognitive Approaches to Persuasion in Games

Christiansen Peter
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Just as rhetorical arguments can be embedded within the structure of a game's logic, so too can heuristic cues. In this paper, I argue for persuasive game design based upon using the technological affordances of videogames as a medium to trigger specific heuristic cues, thereby allowing game designers to create games that are able to evoke the necessary amount of systematic cognitive processing to promote long-term attitude change among players of the game. This approach is based upon the Heuristic-Systematic Model (HSM) of cognition, as well as the MAIN (Modality, Agency, Interactivity, and Navigability) model of technological effects.


Thanatogaming: Death, Videogames, and the Biopolitical State

Christiansen Peter
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

In response to the rise of the biopolitical state, which derives power from its ability to “make live” and “let die,” some scholars have argued that death itself can serve as a form of resistance to biopower. As virtual worlds become increasingly intertwined with the physical world, the concept of in-game death can have rhetorical force to resist both physical and virtual biopower. This paper draws on examples of death as resistance with in the virtual worlds of America's Army and World of Warcraft.