Paralysing Fear: Player Agency Parameters in Horror Games

Boonen Casper S. Mieritz Daniel
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

The horror video game genre is dedicated to building suspense and scaring its players. One of the ways in which it achieves this goal is through the manipulation of the player’s agency. With this paper, we seek to examine and identify elements used to manipulate the agency of the player in horror video games, to see how they can be used to evoke horror and dread within the player. To this purpose, a qualitative humanistic approach has been applied, through the analysis of six horror games. Our results indicate several common themes, found in the elements used to manipulate player agency. Based on these themes, we have developed an Agency Parameter Model, illustrating a hierarchical relationship between different categories used to manipulate agency. At the core of the model are three overarching categories: Player Character Parameters, System Parameters, and Player Parameters.


Cues and insinuations: Indicating affordances of non-player character using visual indicators

Warpefelt Henrik
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Non-player characters (NPCs) provide an important service in video games in that they provide an active connection to the narrative through their behavior, as if they were actors in a play. In this study, we aim to explore in what ways the visual appearance of an NPC affects how players perceive their role in the game, and what criteria players use to evaluate the role of NPCs based on visual information. This is done by performing a survey of players, where the respondents are asked to determine the role that a number of NPCs had given their visual appearance, and describe how they decided the roles of the NPCs.


Editors of Play: The Scripts and Practices of Co-creativity in Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet

Abend Pablo Beil Benjamin
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Computer games can be described as assemblages which, to use a term from Science and Technology Studies, provide different scripts that set the scene for user practices. These scripts include the game world’s possibilities and restrictions and the degree of freedom provided to the users by the overall gameplay. Lately, a new genre of games challenges these specifics. So-called editor games like Minecraft or LittleBigPlanet, which entered the market with sweeping success, are not games in the traditional sense in which players follow certain rules guided by narrative elements framing the gameplay. Instead, these sandbox games – often labeled as ‘digital LEGO’ or ‘co-creative open worlds’ – afford the construction of a game world rather than playing within one. Following a praxeological approach, this essay will try to make co-creative processes in editor games accessible as a research object, by performing a critical evaluation of established methods within Game Studies complemented by an experimental focus group analysis.


An affordance based model for gameplay

Pinchbeck Dan
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper presents a formal model for gameplay based upon the affordances available to the player that are linked to game objects. It has been constructed via an extensive analysis of major first-person games 1998-2008, although it is argued it may extend to all diegetic games. Gameplay can be understood as a network of allowed actions, that can be summarised as a small number of archetypal affordances mediated by a set of parameters that define their functional relationships. As well as the capacity for the model to elucidate the ludic structures of games, it is argued that an affordance based model also provides a means to understand the relationship and role of story and content within a ludological context.


Agency Reconsidered

Wardrip-Fruin Noah Mateas Michael Dow Steven Sali Serdar
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

The concept of “agency” in games and other playable media (also referred to as “intention”) has been discussed as a player experience and a structural property of works. We shift focus, considering agency, instead, as a phenomenon involving both player and game, one that occurs when the actions players desire are among those they can take (and vice versa) as supported by an underlying computational model. This shifts attention away from questions such as whether agency is “free will” (it is not) and toward questions such as how works evoke the desires agency satisfies, employ computational models in the service of player action and ongoing dramatic probability, use interfaces and mediation to encourage appropriate audience expectation, shift from initial audience expectation to an understanding of the computational model, and can be shaped with recognition of the inherently improvisational nature of agency. We focus particularly on agency in relation to the fictional worlds of games and other playable media.


This is not a Door: an Ecological approach to Computer Games

Linderoth Jonas Bennerstedt Ulrika
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

In this chapter we outline an ecological approach to computer games and test out how the theory of ecological psychology can be used for understanding digital games and game-play. Ecological psychology holds that learning is a process of differentiating and not of interpreting or construing. Therefore semiotic/cognitive views on learning and perception with computer games, were the perceptual act is thought to be adding experiences to the things we see in a game in order to make meaning, can be questioned. The theoretical points are illustrated with data from an interaction study made on players playing the game Timesplitters 2 on an X-box.


Beyond the digital divide: An ecological approach to gameplay

Linderoth Jonas
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper outlines a framework for understanding gameplay from the perspective of ecological psychology. According to this perspective, gameplay can be described in terms of perceiving, acting on and transforming the affordances that are related to a game system or to other players in a game. Challenges in games have an emphasis on perceiving suitable actions and/or performing suitable actions, often with emphasis on one aspect. For example, in many board games, strategy games and puzzle games, the challenge is to perceive appropriate affordances while in many sports, multiplayer shooter games, racing games, etc. the challenge is to use appropriate affordances. From this follows that the ecological approach to gameplay overrides the division of games as being digital and non-digital games.