Epistemological Issues in Understanding Games Design, Play-Experience, and Reportage

Howell Peter Stevens Brett
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

This paper presents a philosophically grounded argument for examining how second-order analysis can be approached with regard to epistemologies of game design and play-experience. Games are presented as multiple ‘units of being’ sharing relationships of dependency and transformation, which can be approached differently by different audiences. To demonstrate how such relationships can function between units of being, examples from game analyses are discussed with particular attention to the role of cognition and memory in reporting on the play-experience specifically. Implications for design practice, player studies, game analysis, and games criticism are discussed throughout the argument, working towards a theoretical foundation for enabling more deeply informed interpretation and analyses.


Hackers and Cyborgs: Binary Domain and Two Formative Videogame Technicities

Keogh Brendan
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

Through the course of Binary Domain’s action-packed narrative, it becomes increasingly unclear who is human, who is machine, and who is somewhere in between. Ultimately, such a distinction is futile when our everyday experiences are so ubiquitously augmented by technologies—even the act of playing Binary Domain by coupling with a virtual character through a videogame controller challenges any clear distinction between human and machine. While such themes are not new to science fiction, the anxieties expressed by Binary Domain’s characters are relevant to what have emerged over the past twentyfive years as two formative modes of identifying with videogames: the dominant hacker and the integrated cyborg. The hacker, an identity that the dominant and hegemonic ‘gamer’ consumer identity can trace a clear lineage from, comes to represent the masculinist, mastery-focused identity that most blockbuster games celebrate.The cyborg emerges in resistance to the hacker, pointing to a diversity of forms and identities focused less on mastering the machine than participating with it. This paper uses Binary Domain’s complex anxieties towards technology as a lens through which to trace the histories of these constitutive modes of identifying with videogames, and to demonstrate the influence they have on shaping videogame forms and audiences.


Challenge Balance and Diversity: Playing The Sims and The Sims 2

Iversen Sara Mosberg
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

How can we begin to empirically analyse computer games as dynamic systems that seek to motivate and facilitate meaningful and pleasurable player activity? This paper suggests that the concept of ‘challenge’ offers a promising starting point for such inquiries. First the notion of challenge will be briefly introduced. Then the The Sims and The Sims 2 will be analysed and compared with regards to their challenges in order to highlight some of their distinct characteristics as games and to identify some of their differences. These games are interesting in terms of challenge because they, according to a narrow definition of games, are borderline games due to their lack of clear overall goals and a winning condition. Still, challenge seems to offer a fruitful frame of understanding, thus showing promise as a foundation for an extended definition of games.


Computer Game Criticism: A Method for Computer Game Analysis

Konzack Lars
2002 Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings

In this paper, we describe a method to analyse computer games. The analysis method is based on computer games in particular and not some kind of transfer from other field or studies - even though of course it is inspired from other kinds of analysis methods from varying fields of studies. The method is based on seven different layers of the computer game: hardware, program code, functionality, game play, meaning, referentiality, and socio-culture. Each of these layers may be analysed individually, but an entire analysis of any computer game must be analysed from every angle. Thereby we are analysing both technical, aesthetic and socio-cultural perspectives.


Modelling Experimental Game Design

Holopainen Jussi Nummenmaa Timo Kuittinen Jussi
2010 DiGRA Nordic '10: Proceedings of the 2010 International DiGRA Nordic Conference: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players

This paper uses two models of design, Stolterman’s and Löwgren’s three abstraction levels and Lawson’s model of designing, from the general design research to describe the game design process of an experimental pervasive mobile phone game. The game was designed to be deployed at a big science fiction convention for two days and was part of a research through design project where the focus was to understand which core mechanics could work for pervasive mobile phone games. The design process was, as is usual for experimental designs, very iterative. Data were gathered during the design process as entries in a design diary, notes from playtesting and bodystorming sessions, user interface sketches, and a series of software prototypes. The two complementary models of design were used to analyse the design process and the result is that the models give a good overview to an experimental game design process and reveal activities, design situations, and design choices which could have otherwise been lost in the analysis.


Games and machinima in adolescents’ classrooms

Lacasa Pilar Martínez Rut Méndez Laura
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This presentation identifies innovative educational practices when commercial video games, combined with other new or traditional technologies are present in the secondary education classrooms. The major goal of the project was to generate new knowledge about how to design scenarios, using commercial video games as the starting point, which may contribute to the development of new literacies when students work with specific curriculum contents. Our data has been analyzed exploring the machinima productions in order to analyze the relationships between the video productions, the game and, the gamers’ perspective about his/her own activity. To examine these strategies several dimensions have been considered in order to compare different approaches to machinima.


Playful ambience

Eyles Mark Pinchbeck Dan
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This research started in 2004 as a search for a pervasive game equivalent of Brian Eno’s ignorable ambient music, such as ‘Music for Airports’. Brian Eno explicitly stated that the attention of listeners might alter over time, from ignoring to listening intently to the music; the ambient music pervading an environment and creating a mood, "it must be as ignorable as it is interesting" (Eno, 1978) Listeners might come across the music and then choose to what extent they engage with it. Defining ambience, and ambient properties, was particularly challenging. The concept of ambience, especially when applied to games, was not immediately clear. Building on the definition of ambience developed by Brian Eno for music (ibid.), fundamental properties of ambience as applied to games were posited. These properties included ideas of different levels of engagement by players, different levels of affect, persistence of the game when players are not present and the context of the game (where, when, who). The game design research methodology (Dishman, 2003; Eglin, Eyles, & Dansey, 2008; Eyles, 2008b; Zimmerman, 2003) developed for this research was used with phenomenological methods (Krzywinska, 2005; Mallon, 2006) to determine the experience of players and hence throw light on the fundamental nature of games and ambient gameplay. Following research into experimental games (M. Eyles, Eglin, R., 2007a, 2007b) which were designed to contain high degrees of ambience as previously (theoretically) defined it became clear that many existing commercial games contain some ambient (sometimes emergent) properties. They are not designed to be played ambiently, but have properties that facilitate ambient play (see ambient properties above). The research with experimental ambient games enabled the development of a phenomenologically predicated ambient lens through which these existing games could be viewed. This lens was then further refined by considering the ambience of both the experimental and the commercial games; finally arriving at a description of key features of ambient play. Constant comparisons within and between different data, and back to definitions of musical ambience, were used to ensure rigor (Glaser, 1978). This paper focuses on the findings of this research into ambience in games, delivering a succinct and far reaching schema of ambience that has not only been applied to existing games but has some important implications for the design of future games, throwing new light on the experience of game players and in particular of the inventive, collaborative and ambiguous nature of game playing. The applications of this research are wide reaching, in particular due to the ‘gamification’ (Campbell, 2011; McGonigal, 2011; Schell, 2010) of many products and services. For example, the awarding of points and rewards for use of online shops (such as Ebay) and the vine growing display of the Ford Fusion Hybrid car to denote driving efficiency (hypermilling) (Squatriglia, 2009). These applications of game mechanisms are pervasive, having many similarities to the ambient gameplay investigated in this research. The findings of this research into ambient play within games clearly indicate elements and approaches that could enhance the experience of gamified products and applications. Further this research offers a new way of looking at games, including both pervasive and commercial video games.