A Framework for Choice Hermeneutics

Focht Cyril Wardrip-Fruin Noah
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

Choices in storygames do more than create narrative branches, and mean more than cause and effect. The structure of hypertext is similar to choice structures, and the way links add semantic meaning to the text they connect is similar to the way choices add semantic meaning to the events they connect. We apply research from hypertext theory to expand the framework of choice poetics presented by Mawhorter et al. (2014), outlining more detail in the choice structure they propose and reframing their discussion of choice idioms. We demonstrate this analytical framework by applying it to a reading of Sonder (Focht 2019)—a game in which choices are written to emphasize their semantic function—to show how our framework expands the vocabulary around choices to provide more descriptive ability, and in turn more analytical insight, for critics and scholars analyzing games with choice structures.


Situational analysis as a method for qualitative inquiry of games

Jørgensen Ida Kathrine Hammeleff
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

This article presents a sketch for a methodology for situational analysis of games. Situational analysis is a research practice originating in the social sciences. It is based on grounded theory and inspired by post-modern theory. This article argues that situational analysis is a fruitful approach to game analysis, as it addresses key challenges in game analysis: how to contain the dynamicity, heterogeneity, and composite quality of games, and how to make sense of the analyst’s position. It bypasses the distinction between analysis of games as objects and analysis of what players do and has a distinct focus on the role of materiality. The article will consist of two parts. Part one offers a discussion of current problems in game analysis and the potential of situational analysis. Part two offers a case study of a situational analysis of three play sessions of a selected game.


Beyond Procedurality: Situating The Witness in the Proceduralism Debate

Wright Ryan C.
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

This paper posits a comparative analysis between two views of ludic meaning in game studies. The same two puzzles from Thekla, Inc.’s 2016 puzzle adventure game The Witness are interpreted first from a proceduralist perspective and then are re-interpreted from a play-centric perspective derived from a combination of practice theory and game scholar Miguel Sicart’s formulation of play. The purpose of this analysis is to demonstrate how a game otherwise well-suited to proceduralist readings might be more completely understood from such a play-centric perspective and presents this experimental method of analysis by example.


War Ethics: A Framework for Analyzing Videogames

Zagal José P.
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

While much has been done exploring how ethics and videogames can overlap in interesting ways, there is little work examining the philosophy of war and its relation to videogames. This seems unusual since videogames have a long tradition of engaging with war as its subject matter. We provide a framework for analyzing and articulating ethical issues and concerns in videogames that feature representations of war. This framework is based in traditional war ethics, more specifically the notion of the “just war” and considers the ethical concerns that include when engaging in a war is morally justified (jus ad bellum), how to wage a war ethically (jus in bello) and the ethical responsibilities of the aftermath of a war (jus post bellum). Our framework consists of five lenses consisting of the perspective offered to players, the scale and scope of war represented, the centrality of war to the game experience, the type of military that appear in the game, and the authenticity of a game’s representation. For each lens we also provide a list of questions that can be used to examine the subtleties and nuances of how war is represented in the game that hopefully lead to deeper and more insightful analyses. We conclude with thoughts on how this approach could be productive as well as outline some additional areas worth considering for future work.


Towards Genre as a Game Design Research Approach

Goddard William Muscat Alexander
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

Game design research is a growing field within game studies. Design in research, however, raises new questions. What should game design research investigate? How generalizable should its claims be? Considering the ‘ultimate particular’ of design, this paper explores how design research should investigate particular demarcations of works. This paper suggests genre as an approach in game design research, arguing that genres meaningfully, albeit reflexively, demarcate ‘likenesses’ worth investigation. Genre demarcations can be used to ground and orient research; lists of genre-games and informal descriptions suggest, what to, and how to, investigate genre, respectively. However, scholarly propositions of genres are necessary to support research. These propositions must make explicit, contestable, and substantive designerly claims about that genre, such as design values, structural patterns, and aesthetics, laying a scholarly foundation for future claims. These foundations support scholarly tradition in game design research by providing a context to ground, situate and disseminate findings.


Ludic Zombies: An Examination of Zombieism in Games

Backe Hans-Joachim Aarseth Espen
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Zombies have become ubiquitous in recent years in all media, including digital games. Zombies have no soul or consciousness, and as completely alien, post-human Other, they seem like the perfect game opponent. Yet their portrayal is always politically charged, as they have historically been used as an allegory for slavery, poverty, and consumerism, and may be read as stand-ins for threatening but too human Others of unwanted class, ethnicity of political opinion. The paper explores the trope‟s iconography and how it is used in a number of paradigmatic games, from Plants vs. Zombies and Call of Duty to the Resident Evil series, Left 4 Dead, Fallout 3 (the Tenpenny Tower quests) and DayZ. Through theses comparative analyses, the paper demonstrates the range of usages of zombies in games, ranging from the facile use of a (seemingly) completely deindividuated humanoid for entertainment purposes to politically aware ludifications of the zombie‟s allegorical dimension.


Towards an Ontological Language for Game Analysis

Zagal José P. Mateas Michael Fernández-Vara Clara Hochhalter Brian Lichti Nolan
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

The Game Ontology Project (GOP) is creating a framework for describing, analyzing and studying games, by defining a hierarchy of concepts abstracted from an analysis of many specific games. GOP borrows concepts and methods from prototype theory as well as grounded theory to achieve a framework that is always growing and changing as new games are analyzed or particular research questions are explored. The top level of the ontology (interface, rules, goals, entities, and entity manipulation) is described as well as a particular ontological entry. Finally, by engaging in three short discussions centered on relevant games studies research questions, the ontology’s utility is demonstrated.


Delightful identification & persuasion: towards an analytical and applied rhetoric of digital games

Walz Steffen P.
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This article discusses first steps towards a specific rhetoric of digital games where general rhetoric makes up the scientific discipline of strategic communication and symbolic action by means of identification and psychagogy. Therefore, this work contributes to the fundamental and general question why and how players become consubstantialised and persuaded with game designs, and stick to gameplay these games. Accordingly, a first conceptual model is introduced and discussed. It features three interrelating dimensions which engage a symbolic, a structural, and a systemic coupling between player and game design during gameplay within an experiential eigenworld of reciprocal control, mastery, and empowerment.