Contextualizing Flow in Games

Salisbury John Tomlinson Penda
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

Flow, the concept developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi over the last forty years or so (see Csikszentmihalyi 1975) has been invoked quite often with respect to the way players engage with digital games (e.g. Baron 2012; Cowley et al. 2008; Sweetser and Wyeth 2005; Brathwaite & Schreiber, 2009; Fullerton, Swain, & Hoffman, 2008; Schell, 2008). However Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi (2002) argue that ‘video games’ are in fact likely to promote undesirable experiences of a kind Csikszentmihalyi refers to as ‘entropy’ or unstructured and unsatisfying life experiences. This presentation explores Csikszentmihalyi’s greater thesis and examines how a broader reading of Flow theory can potentially help us understand Flow like engagements beyond the simple mechanistic view of challenge and reward sometimes encountered in the literature. The main thrust of the argument made here is to explicitly introduce personally expressed cultural values into the conditions of Flow. By doing so we can then provide a value centric analysis and design approach, similar to that of Cockton’s (2004; 2012) proposal to include values into general software design. That is the very nature of challenges and rewards needs to be considered in order to investigate how overcoming or receiving such would be positively or negatively perceived by individuals from particular cultures holding particular values. Thus we hope that we have dealt with the apparent contradiction in using Csikszentmihalyi’s concept in the study of games despite his criticism of such, and have provided some indication of how we can deal with unspecified rewards and the differential perception and engagement with potentially equivalent challenges while still supporting the accepted thesis of Flow.


It’s all fun and games… A history of ideas concerning gamification

Raczkowski Felix
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

The paper offers the first results of an analysis of popular gamification guidebook publications. Using the way these guidebooks consider digital games as a starting point, I single out three of the most commonly mentioned associations with games and put them in the context of the overarching ideas that infuse them. After discussing the relationship of gamification and 1960’s behavioral experiments in psychiatric wards, I outline the most important issues that the analysis entails for further research.


Breaking the flow: Intervention in computer game play through physical and Intervention in computer game play through physical and on-screen interaction

Eggen Berry Feijs Loe de Graaf Mark Peters Peter
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This article investigates issues of controlling the amount of time during computer game play and potential solutions to help prevent excessive gaming. The study incorporates the realization of three different variants. Two screen based solutions and one based on a physical agent, outside the computer screen, provide notification and additionally even “intervention” to the user. The three realizations have been put to the test and the results, both quantitative and qualitative are presented. The physical agent-based solution was most attractive.


Game reward systems: Gaming experiences and social meanings

Wang Hao Sun Chuen-Tsai
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

The authors give an overview of how various video game reward systems provide positive experiences to players, and propose classifications for rewards and reward characteristics for further analysis. We also discuss what reward systems encourage players to do, and describe how they provide fun even before players receive their rewards. Next, we describe how game reward systems can be used to motivate or change behaviors in the physical world. One of our main suggestions is that players can have fun with both rewards and reward mechanisms—enjoying rewards while reacting to the motivation that such rewards provide. Based on relevant psychological theories, we discuss how reward mechanisms foster intrinsic motivation while giving extrinsic rewards. We think that reward systems and mechanisms in modern digital games provide social meaning for players primarily through motivation, enhanced status within gaming societies, and the use of rewards as social tools.


Evaluating Interactive Entertainment using Breakdown: Understanding Embodied Learning in Video Games

Ryan William Siegel Martin A.
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

This paper describes evaluating interactive entertainment by understanding embodied learning in games, which is a perspective that situates the learning that a player must go through to play a game in a skill-based environment. Our goal was to arrive at a tool for designers to improve learnability from this perspective. To study embodied learning, we use the concept of breakdown, which happens when our experience fails to aid our everyday actions and decision-making. We conducted a study to investigate learning in games from which we constructed a framework of 17 patterns of breakdown and a set of guidelines to aid heuristic evaluation of video games and to help designers support breakdown in interactions, which support players’ learning, so that they do not become breakdowns in illusion, which break players’ immersion.


Game, Motivation, and Effective Learning: An Integrated Model for Educational Game Design

Paras Brad Bizzocchi Jim
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

As new technologies enable increasingly sophisticated game experiences, the potential for the integration of games and learning becomes ever more significant. Motivation has long been considered as an important step in learning. Researchers suggest Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory as a method for understanding and implementing motivation. This bears significance since games foster play, which produces a state of flow, which increases motivation, which supports the learning process. However, this relationship is not as straightforward as it first seems. Research also shows that reflection is an important part of the learning process and while in the state of flow, players rarely reflect on the learning that is taking place. This paper explains how games can act as effective learning environments by integrating reflection into the process of play, producing an endogenous learning experience that is intrinsically motivating.